Hiring Your First Employee – Screening and Interviewing Techniques

Check out our previous article Hiring Your First Employee – What’s the role and are you REALLY ready? Where we talked about checking if you are really ready to make your first hire and a quick checklist to guide you into attracting the right talent for your business.

Now, hopefully, you’ve got applications rolling in and the thought of hiring someone to drive your business forward is exciting, this is the first step from solopreneur to entrepreneur…

Screening candidates

The last thing you want to be doing as a business owner is to be wading through dozens of unqualified, weak applicants for your role. Ideally, you want to be focused only on those with a real chance of becoming your first hire.

One trick is to place a screening question in the application, a kind of hidden task which will weed out anyone just firing off a CV to everything and anything.

Whether you do a screening question or not you will likely end up with a digital pile of CVs that you need to srt through to find that hidden gem.

An effective method is to:

  1. Quickly scan through all the CV’s and place them into three folders. Qualified, Not Qualified, Maybe.

This immediately removes the unqualified candidates. Remember at this stage you are really only looking to prune the applicants down, not find the ideal one.

  1. Now go through all the qualified CV’s again, this time with a bit more scrutiny. Trust your gut instinct to a certain degree, but also make sure they have the skills and experience you are looking for to fulfil the role. 

Select any that stand out as potential interview candidates, and invite them for an interview.

Interviewing candidates

One school of thought with interviewing is to have a phone screening interview first. 

This is often a good idea as it allows you to ask some pretty simple questions and get an initial feel for the candidate. Nothing beats a face to face interview but if your application number is high this could save you time and wasted effort.

Questions and culture fit

Ok so you’re a small company and are probably yet to develop a culture in the traditional sense quite yet… however, does the candidate like the idea of working for a small company? do they like the flexibility and opportunity to wear many hats? If they are a strictly corporate type of worker, the lack of structure won’t sit well with them.

Remember you’ll be spending more time with this person than your spouse so you need to have a rapport and get on well with each other!

When asking questions you might prefer to keep it brief and focus purely on the job tasks. (It doesn’t make any sense to be asking a graphic designer question after question when a better screening technique would probably be to ask them to design something)

Simple questions like:

  • Tell me a bit about your last job?
  • Why do you like the idea of working for a small business?
  • Tell me about some of your wins?

Are all great simple and relaxing questions to get them to talk. You aren’t screening for an episode of the apprentice here…

You just need a good idea of the type of person they are. Are they generally positive or negative? Are they driven? Do they get excited about the role? 

You’ll be able to see pretty quickly if they are someone who really wants the job and will fit nicely into your business.

In summary:

  • Skim through applications quickly and place them into three piles or folders
  • Take a second pass and identify a handful to invite for an interview
  • Do an initial phone interview to weed out anyone not suitable
  • Have a few set questions to help them open up in the interview
  • Don’t be afraid to ditch the traditional questions and ask them to do something related to the role instead.

Do your screening and trust your intuition. 

Whilst it’s no guarantee you’ll get the perfect hire it does give you the best possible shot at having that first employee being the superstar worker you need to explode your business. 

If you need any help with setting up your payroll or dealing with any of the other financial tasks associated with having an employee don’t hesitate to contact us. We can take all the stress and burden away from you, letting you focus on running your business.