It was my very first business. What did I know about hiring? I placed an ad, “Seamstresses wanted, work from home.”
I met with everyone who applied and asked them questions about their sewing skills. Some were very confident and told me they could sew anything. Others were more modest. I ended up hiring everyone.
Over the next few weeks and months I ended up with some excellent garments I was proud to retail in my shop.
Others garments were disasters. I had paid top dollar for the fabrics and top wages for the sewing – and ended up giving the garments to charity because I knew none of my clients would pay for them.
Needless to say, the seamstresses who had produced the disasters did not work for me again. Unfortunately, it was not a cost effective weeding out process!
That experience was the beginning of an interest in hiring and managing employees that has lasted over 15 years. During that time, I’ve had the opportunity to do some more hiring myself for other businesses. I’ve studied the hiring process of companies I’ve coached and I’ve studied everything I could get my hands on regarding this subject.
So am I a hiring expert now? Not quite. What I’ve learned is that every employer in every industry has different requirements.
There are some constants, however; some procedures that will definitely help to ensure you are getting not just adequate, but great employees.
- Get very clear about what you want your new employee to do. Specify roles and duties.
- Do a study of your best people (past and present) and find out what characteristics they have in common. One of the best ways to do this is by using a tool called the Profile XT(TM). You will come up with a job match pattern that will provide a benchmark for prospective candidates.
- What kinds of activities would someone with the skills and talents you’re looking for engage in? What will give you the clues that a prospective employee also has those skills, talents and abilities?
Here’s a hint: the demonstrated skills or talents may come from experiences not at all related to the position you’re hiring for. They may come from hobbies, volunteer experience or unrelated former employment.
- Find a way to see a demonstration of the required skills or talents. How can you test for the necessary talents or skills? In my case, I started giving prospective seamstresses packages of samples where they were required to sew to demonstrate the various sewing skills I needed. Brainstorm ways to do this with your coach, other employees, managers or partners.
- Study your mistakes. Looking back at people you’ve hired in the past (who didn’t work out) what common problems did you encounter? What traits or qualities are you SURE you NEVER want again? What will clue you into the presence of those qualities or traits?
One business owner I’ve worked with has noticed a specific attitude common among his hiring mistakes. He’s now very alert to that attitude during the interview process.
- Prepare to interview. How many interviews will you hold for each candidate? Some companies hold several interviews for the short list of three to five candidates. The first might be with HR and yourself. The second may be with the department manager and the third might be after you’ve done an assessment or two. Assessments will always pinpoint areas you may want to question or clarify with the candidate.
- Always ask for, and check references. A very small percentage of employers do this. Look over the list of desirable talents and skills you’ve identified as well as the ones you know you want to steer clear of. Develop a list of four to five specific questions you’ll ask those references. If you don’t get acceptable answers from the referees, it may be a clue that this applicant is not someone you want to hire. Don’t hesitate to dig, but make yourself aware of the types of questions you may not, by law, ask.
- Once you’ve made your decision about who to hire, provide a distinct and specific orientation and training period to help your new employee gain a sense of belonging.
- Provide continued guidance to let your new employee know what standards you expect, when they are or are not meeting your expectations, and make yourself available for their concerns and questions.