Transitioning from a one-person show to a small team can be daunting. One of the hardest things I face when contemplating hiring someone is how to put my trust in another person. When it comes to the level of quality of the relationship and of the work, I’m fastidious about always delivering my best to my clients. One of the biggest challenges in the employee hiring process is knowing whether this new person can meet those standards.
What to Look For
Obviously your new hire needs some experience with the work you’re hiring them to do, but more important than that experience is a set of skills that will ensure they can learn quickly along the way. It’s better to hire someone with less experience but an ability to hit the ground running and a knack for learning new skills, tools and processes quickly.
One good way to assess someone’s level of passion and dedication to an industry is to ask them about non-work related projects and activities. If you’re looking to hire a graphic designer, what have they done outside the workplace? Perhaps they take a drawing class or have a sketchbook of design ideas they’d like to pursue in the future. If you’re looking for a writer, ask about a blog or what books they’re reading. If it’s a software developer you need, see if they’ve attended any hackathons or have a side project they’re working on.
Because you’re a small business, the working environment is going to be very different to that of a bigger company. Maybe it’s a remote position and maybe the hours aren’t regular. Maybe you’re only looking to hire on contract rather than full time. Look out for people with an aptitude for flexibility and adaptability to changing circumstances. Your new hire should be able to work well independently and take initiative to solve problems. Prior experience working freelance or working within a startup environment will tell you that your new hire knows what to expect from this type of work.
Approaching the Interview
I’ve always been a big advocate for a more informal interview style that includes time to just chat. If your interview feels too much like the Spanish Inquisition, it may make your interviewee nervous, which doesn’t help you get to know what they’re really like. Putting them at ease from the start with a casual question or joke can actually help you get more insight from the rest of the interview.
Rather than launching straight into your questions, give your interviewee a bit of background on you, your company and the role you’re looking to hire for, even if these things have already been stated in a job posting. It helps to get everyone on the same page at the outset. When the interview is winding down, give them time to ask questions at the end. There may be aspects of the role you’ve forgotten to talk about, and the kinds of questions you get will also tell you about how keen this person is to work for you and what they consider important in a working relationship.
Some final words of wisdom: Hire someone you get along with. This will make all the difference to your working relationship and your own job satisfaction. If you’re able to communicate well with your new hire, you can work through any issues that arise more efficiently.
Although the employee hiring process can be daunting when you’re new to hiring, it’s a great way to learn new skills and expand your business beyond what’s possible as a sole proprietor.