Hiring for your small business

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A professional development expert shares her top tips for interviewing potential staff, and potential pitfalls to avoid.

As a small business, when it comes to hiring a new member of staff, it is even more important to be sure you have chosen the best person for your business needs and company culture.

Sarah Derry, director of People Reaching Potential and former HR regional director for a large multi-national company points out the key things to look out for when recruiting staff for small business.
  • Avoid asking unrelated questions such as “What is your favourite food?”. Even if the candidate won’t end up being successful, they will still walk away with an impression – good or bad – of your business and word can travel fast.
  • The better prepared you are with your questions and tailoring them to your business type, the higher your chances are of choosing the right person for the job.
  • Feel free to introduce the prospective employee to your business but let them do most of the talking and stick to open ended questions and don’t forget to ask the revealing “Tell me about yourself.”
  • Don’t underestimate easy questions – those where the answers may already be in their resume. The point of these is to help your interviewee relax and answer questions with a clear mind so you both get the most out of the interview.
  • Forget hypothetical questions. If you ask someone what they might do in a situation you will only hear what they might do back. They won’t be hypothetically doing their job so choose questions with truthful answers, such as behavioural questions.
  • Candidates may not tell you the whole story upon answering a question. They could be nervous, drawing a blank or keeping an eye on the time. Make use of follow-up questions to give them the chance to tell more about something you’ve found interesting.
  • Be sure to finish with a clear closing question, the final chance for the interviewee to mention anything about themselves that could put them ahead of the rest.

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