The Golden Investment – Hiring!

This week I was invited to lunch by a small business owner who wanted some help developing his interviewing skills. He will be making one of the most important investments a small business owner makes – hiring.

Let me explain why I say this. It’s not because of the cost of staffing. It’s because when hiring is done correctly, you not only add staff, you make an investment in the business, an investment in the business, and more importantly, you are putting your business culture at risk. A good hire will more likely result in a growing business, and happy employee, and the ability to sustain or create the culture you want for your business. A bad hire puts all of those same things at risk.

There are many great books written on hiring. Many more on performance management after you hire someone – and even more on developing great employees. My goal here is share some very simple things a hiring manager can do to find then select good people.

Finding people

  • Referrals – of the last large group of small business owners I’ve worked with, their best recruiting source is often the same as the best source for their sales funnel – referrals from their own customer base.  

Try this: Email blasts that both says “thank you” to existing customers for their business and also says “because of your patronage my business is expanding and I’m now hiring for a _____. If you or someone you know is interested, please have them email/call …..”

  • Promoting current employees – the proactive business owner hires people not for the open position, but for their next position in the business. Hiring people with aspirations and higher goals is a great way to sustain a productive culture, but it takes a commitment to coach and mentor the employee to their goals as well.

Try this: Outline what you want your business Org Chart to look like in 1, 3, and/or 5 years. Then look at your current team and see who you want to fit into what future position. This should help you identify talent gaps and/or coaching gaps to fill or address.


  • Behavior based questions – there are internet resources for thousands of BBI (Behavior Based Interview) questions that are designed for the applicant to relate a “real life” situations in the interview rather than “pie in the sky” questions.
  • Consistency – for any one position the interviewer will target 3-5 key competencies that the best candidate will need to succeed. Ask every candidate the same BBI questions, though follow up questions will vary based on the answers. Rate each candidate’s responses on some scale (1-3, 1-10, whatever works for you) for each competency – then you have a snapshot that helps you OBJECTIVELY identify the best candidate. (And may help you with any potential legal issue for hiring practices.)
  • Interview follow up – have the interviewed candidate send you a follow up letter or email, summarizing their key take a ways from the interview. Check those letters/emails for comprehension, grammar, spelling, and overall professionalism. Factor this into your competencies.
  • Second interviews with peers – allow key staff people to do a mini-interview for the most qualified candidates to get their input (team building) and assess how the candidate fits into the culture from their perspective.
  • Personality profiles – there are many internet based personality profiles available for most every industry that helps make the hiring decision more objective. Look into one that you can try. Start with your own assessment, then with existing (and successful) staff. If it works on them, it should work on candidate.

Then comes the real work – on boarding the new employee, coaching, performance management, career development, etc – but those topics are for another day!


About Frank

Consultant to small business owner/operators who want to grow their income, improve their efficiency, and implement successful systems to maximize productivity.
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