Hiring for Your Small Business: 4 Insights from Owners

September 9, 2021
Checkr Editor

Editor’s note: This blog was written for Checkr by Tiffany Bellah, customer service manager at Dance Studio Pro.

Every small business owner knows the value of driven, respectful, and talented employees. However, finding the right people to work for your small business can be difficult, especially if you don’t have much interview experience. Between analyzing experience level, running background checks, assessing personal strengths, and more, there are a lot of factors you need to consider when hiring. 

In addition to these challenges, the hiring landscape continues to change as remote interviews become increasingly popular. In fact, there has been a 67% spike in remote interviews in the past year. 

Hiring strong employees is a challenge for any business, from retail shops to dance studios to nonprofit organizations. But some best practices apply to any type of manager, no matter what business you run. Here are four insights from expert small business owners about how you can hire the very best: 

  • Be specific with your job description. 
  • Ask the right questions. 
  • Remember that skill level isn’t all that matters. 
  • Communicate often.

Whether this is your first time hiring an employee or you’re just looking to up your interview game, these tips can help. 

In the long-run, being thorough and strategic during your hiring process ensures that you aren’t bringing on candidates who plan to leave or who won’t align with your business. Being smart now will lead you to sustainable growth and a productive team in the future. Let’s dive in.

1. Be specific with your job description

Job descriptions are likely the first interaction that potential candidates will have with your company, meaning they can make or break your hiring process. 

A good job description is crucial for several reasons. For one, they give candidates an idea of what to expect in the position you’re offering. Plus, they help attract the ideal candidates who have the skills you need.

However, because you’re so busy running your small business, it’s probably difficult to carve out a lot of time to write your job descriptions. To help you out, here are some tips to keep in mind when writing job descriptions: 

  • Pick an engaging job title: Do you want a sales associate or a fundraising professional? An event manager or an executive assistant? The job title you advertise will affect who applies, so make sure that whatever you land on suits the position.
  • Reflect your brand: Whether your business is more personable or more professional, make sure that you accurately reflect your brand’s tone in your job description. Depending on what potential candidates are looking for, a description that aligns with their desired workplace culture will help them know that your business is the right fit.
  • Be detailed: What will the hired employee do every day? What can they learn from your business? What skills are you looking for? Try to answer these questions—and more—in your job descriptions so candidates have a better understanding of your expectations.   
  • Share relevant information: Don’t be afraid to share compensation and benefits information in your job description. These offerings can be a great incentive to encourage candidates to apply to your job. 

One of the best ways to get your job descriptions out there is to post on online job boards or on other digital channels. This AccuData guide to digital marketing can give you some tips about how to reach the right people. Advertise your job openings like you would any other aspect of your business!

2. Ask the right questions

Now that the right candidates have come along, you’re ready to conduct some interviews. Remember that an interview is a two-way street: it’s how you get to know the candidate and how the candidate gets to know your business. Your interview skills shouldn’t just be good—they need to be great. 

One of the best ways to knock your interviews out of the park is to ask the right questions. Because you’re the interviewer, you’ll be the one steering the conversation. Without intriguing questions, your candidate might feel awkward despite their preparation. Not only will strong questions help keep the conversation going, but they can also give you a great deal of insight into who the candidate is and how they would perform if hired. 

Not sure which questions are the best ones to ask? Try asking questions that relate to these topics: 

  • Real life examples: Ask questions that allow candidates to go into specific details about how they approached different situations in their life. You can learn more about the candidate’s own experiences, which will help you make a decision.
  • Problem solving: Try asking each candidate a couple questions about how they would solve job-related problems. This way, you can see how they would manage your business-specific conflicts. And don’t be afraid to offer some feedback to help your candidate get a better understanding of the job. 
  • Big picture thinking: Has your candidate given the long-term growth of your business any thought? Where do they see themselves in five years? These big picture questions can tell you more about how your position fits in with your candidate’s future plans and if they’ll stick around. 

Be sure you leave time at the end for candidates to ask their own questions. This is a great way to assess if a candidate has properly prepared for your interview and wants to learn more. Plus, you’ll be able to see if there are any information gaps in your job description. 

3. Remember that skill level isn’t all that matters

If you’re not getting many applicants, it might be possible that your barriers to entry are too high. While there are certainly some qualified people out there, they may not be looking for a job or they just aren’t the right fit for your business and your brand. 

Although you might be hesitant to do so, sometimes it’s worth taking a chance on a less-experienced candidate if they have the right attitude, a strong interest in the job, or make a great impression. Ultimately, the people who really want the job might work even harder than a candidate who is very qualified. 

However, straying from experience level as an indicator of success does pose its risks. What else should you consider when hiring? Here are some other factors that matter: 

  • Friendliness: A candidate’s general demeanor is a great indicator of the type of attitude they’ll bring to the job.
  • Alignment with your brand: Does the candidate admire your brand? If so, they might be more enthusiastic about the job. However, if your business is just starting out and you haven’t built your brand yet, tell candidates a bit more about your vision and see if it resonates with them.
  • Preparedness: Assess how well the candidate prepared for the job interview. This level of preparedness can signal how much they care about the interview and how their skills might translate to the job. 

Giving every candidate a fair chance might lead you to some unexpected but hard-working employees. That’s why it’s even more crucial that you nail your interview questions. Getting a sense of personality and work ethic can help you make these decisions fairly and with good reason.

4. Communicate often

Did you know that 63% of candidates say that most employers do not communicate adequately? That’s because, a lot of the time, employers do not even inform candidates if they’ve been rejected for a job. This pattern can be frustrating and discouraging for candidates who may feel as though they have to continuously follow up to receive any type of response. 

You can significantly improve your candidate’s hiring experience by staying in touch with them throughout the process. Taking a relationship-based approach to your recruiting and hiring processes leaves your candidates with a positive impression and demonstrates that you respect their time. 

Here are some tips that can strengthen your communication with candidates: 

  • Follow up about an application in a timely manner: Your candidates are eager to hear from you as soon as they submit the application. Review their resume and cover letter as soon as you can to let them know if you’re interested in bringing them in for an interview. 
  • Tell candidates what to expect: If you decide to bring a candidate in for an interview, send them an email about what to expect in the interview process. 
  • Notify the candidate of your decision: Once you’ve completed the interview, be transparent with your decision. The candidate has taken the time to apply and interview, so they deserve to know what you’ve decided regardless if they’re the right fit or not. If you reject the candidate, you can even offer some feedback to explain your choice. 

Even if you decide not to hire a candidate, being open and honest about your choice can still leave a positive impression. And in the future, that same candidate might apply for a different position because they’re still interested in working with you. 

There are a lot of factors to consider throughout the hiring process, especially when you’re already juggling all of the responsibilities of running your small business. But putting in the extra effort during your recruiting and hiring process ensures that you’re hiring the right employees who will help you grow your business.

If you are a small business interested in discussing a background check solution for your company—talk to sales today.

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