5 No-Fail Hiring Tips for Small Businesses

Hiring employees can be tricky, and hiring the wrong employee can be expensive. Use these five tips to minimize hiring mistakes and get the best employee you can afford.

Let me start by saying that I’m misleading you a bit with the title. You can always hire a clunker no matter how well you interview for a position and no matter how much research and reference checking you do on someone. There can always be uncovered skeletons in their closet. They may have committed a felony last week and somehow it slipped through the cracks that you searched around. It’s happened to me as a hiring manager so I’m guessing it can happen to you.

We all make judgment mistakes. What I want to do is help you to minimize those as much as possible and give you some guidelines for hiring the best possible employees that you can for the positions you have available in your organization at any given moment. We don’t have time and money to waste on the wrong people when we are running small businesses – especially if we are running close to the line on viability and profitability.

So, given that, here are my five tips for hiring the best people you can for your human resource needs…

Make the job description as clear as possible. Avoid the flashy ads that make it sound like your company is the only one to work for. Everyone knows that’s not the case – you’re overselling yourself and good potential employees are skeptical in this hiring market anyway. If your ad sounds too much like a sales pitch or too good to be true, then the real good candidates will skip over it because they have already been around the block a few times and probably succumbed to some real wasteful interview/application processes for jobs that don’t really exist.

RELATED: How to Write a Job Description

Use video interviews. Don’t just require face-to-face interviews or telephone interviews. If you are interested in their level of technical knowledge, look for ways to check that out physically – not just verbally – through the interview process. See if they can get themselves successfully set up for an online video interview. Don’t make it an automatic disqualifier – that may come back to haunt you. But use it as an item on your hiring checklist.

Have them prove ability on a skilled task. If the job is going to require that they forecast a small budget or a few resources, give them a template and have them work through laying it out. Look for creativity and ability (and possibly just overall technical competence again). Again, not necessarily something to completely weed the candidate out on, but rather another item on your hiring checklist.

Use your current staff to interview the candidate. Your current staff has to work with this person, most likely. Have them meet with the candidate – maybe in a more casual setting like a lunch discussion. This is fairly common in larger organizations, but small organizations tend to skip this one vital option.

RELATED: How to Avoid Hiring Bad Employees

Get it done in two rounds. Don’t stretch it out over three, four or five rounds. Narrow it down to two or three candidates and get it done in two rounds at the most. If you can – for sure – get it done in one round, then great. But it’s always nice to see a good candidate a second time to make sure they weren’t just having a really good day that first time around. But you also want to avoid having the reputation of being the hiring organization that draws the hiring process out over a month and subjects the best candidates to personality tests, etc. I had one organization do that a few years ago when they couldn’t decide between me and the other finalist for an IT Director position. I finally told them nevermind because I was lukewarm on moving to their city anyway. Don’t tick off the good candidates…you’re not as great as you may think you are.


Good candidates are out there. Great ones are, too. And often times you need them as much as they need you. So be upright and honorable in your hiring practices, don’t run them ragged before you even hire them, but be diligent in how you go about interviewing them. Use technology wisely to slip it in as a hiring criteria without them realizing it. Get things done quickly. Stick to these and you’ll be hiring the best candidates you’ve reached with your ad more often than not.

How to Hire Employees for Your Small Business

Learn the right way to find and hire employees for your small business. This downloadable manual teaches you the steps to follow to recruit and hire the best job candidates for your small business and avoid common hiring pitfalls.  

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