HREngineer, says interviewing candidates at
least twice more than triples the chances of
securing a good hire. You also enhance your
prospects, consultants say, when several
skilled interviewers participate in the interviews and share ideas.
A good rule of thumb, according to
Andresen: Let the candidate speak 75 percent
of the time during the interview. Also, ask
open-ended questions to elicit lengthier
responses. And invite candidates to give examples, which will give insight on their experience and enable comparisons with your own
Find the intangibles. Since small
firms often require workers to perform overlapping functions, HR experts suggest hiring
highly adaptive employees. They should also
be communicative, because co-workers fre-
You’re hired! quently interact.
How to find the best new
employees for your small business
Grill those references. Every job candidate will give references who produce good
recommendations, but how do you know
you’re getting an accurate picture? Andresen
has discovered she gets more meaningful
responses when she asks references to discuss
the candidates’ biggest contributions and
where they could most improve.
Some hiring experts also suggest asking
the references for others who may know the
By Harvey Meyer candidates well. Then ask this second group
for even more references.
His résumé is impeccable. His Think ahead. For starters, small com- Give ‘em a test. Carol Quinn, author of
cover letter sings. His refer- panies should be proactive rather than reac- Don’t Hire Anyone Without Me! (Career Press,
ences gush about his work tive on employment matters. Too often, an 2002), advocates asking applicants to respond
performance. And he knocks employee quits or is fired and a panicked firm to several difficult real-work scenarios. Some
the socks off company man- quickly fills the position. Not surprisingly, it’s consultants take things a step further and rec-
agers during interviews. He’s the Too-Good- easier to misfire when there’s a hasty hire. ommend applicants complete demanding
To-Be-True (TGTBT) candidate for your Broaden your choices. The best real-work assignments.
job opening. employees are plucked from a variety of Get it right! Faulty hires not only deflate
But be wary: Mr. TGTBT may have all the sources—advertising, employee referrals, morale and productivity, they are costly.
right credentials and say all the right things but networking and recruitment firms—so small Burkholder estimates the average cost of a bad
still be Mr. Wrong for the position. If you view companies shouldn’t limit their choices. hire to be least 14. 2 percent of that person’s
the job and the candidate as a marriage, com- Some firms swear by employee referrals, compensation, based on a Staffing.org survey
panies shouldn’t necessarily wed themselves especially those proffered by top producers. of 2,300 organizations.
to the “prettiest” applicant, but to the one best These employees often make the best refer- When it comes down to it, everything—
suited for the task. ences, yielding hard-to-glean insight on can- résumé, references, interviews, tests, assess-
“You can have the best employee on didates’ work. Moreover, top performers are ments and more—should be considered when
paper but not the best employee for what your loath to sully their own reputations by recom- evaluating talented employees. Even so,
company needs,” says Karen Andresen, an mending duds. judging who is best suited for a particular
HR consulting manager in Duluth, Minnesota. Details, details, details. As for ré- position is still something of a crap shoot.
“Unfortunately, it happens way too often” that sumés, several HR consultants claim you Your best bet is to augment your “gut feeling”
companies underemphasize job fit. should sweat the small stuff. Verify the appli- with lots of credible information. C
Hiring talented employees is a key issue cants’ work history, since it’s estimated as
for small businesses, because every worker’s many as one-third lie or exaggerate on their Harvey Meyer is a St. Louis Park, Minnesota,
contribution plays a big role in determining résumé. Beyond that, do the applicants spell freelancer who writes for a variety of national
whether companies are thriving or nose-div- correctly? What about their grammar? business, consumer and general-interest
ing. No company will score 100 percent on Interview often. A Staffing.org survey magazines.
its hiring decisions. But taking measures to reveals the average new hire has been inter-minimize mistakes will maximize chances to viewed 2. 3 times. That’s actually good news.
recruit top talent. Here are some tips. Nick Burkholder, founder of Staffing.org and