How to choose the right first employee

Business Finance

Hiring your first employee is an exciting moment in the life of a business! But it can also be a daunting one too. Not only are there all the legal, tax and commercial finance implications to make sure you’re getting right, but there is the worry that you won’t get the right person for your business, and that you’ll be unable to get rid of someone who is doing your business damage.

Getting the right employees can make or break your business. And whilst there is no magic formula that will ensure you are matched with the perfect person for the job, there are some things you can do to help you hire the right employee for your growing company:

Make Sure Your Hiring Process Is Up To Scratch

Before you ask whether the candidates are up to the job, first make sure your recruitment process is up to the job.

A good recruitment process will identify each candidate’s knowledge, capabilities, skills, confidence, attitude and their potential too. If the plan you have in place for recruitment – whether that’s interviews, tests, or a trial day – isn’t going to be able to tell you those things then you need to look again at how you are conducting the process and adjust it.

Do you need to bring other people in to the process to help you determine if you’ve got the right person for the job? It’s a great idea to have others involved in the evaluations as they may ask questions you wouldn’t think to ask, and it’s also useful to be able to have someone else to discuss candidates with after the evaluations are over. You could ask someone you respect in business who has been through the recruitment process many times before and can therefore give you the benefit of their wisdom and experience. Or you could bring in a professional recruiter. They will be able to fill in the gaps in your knowledge and alert you to things you might not otherwise think to be on the lookout for.

According to the Telegraph, an average of 32 people apply for every one post in London, and an average of 10 per job in the rest of the country. You need to make sure that amongst that number is the one that you’re looking for.

Create An Ideal Employee Checklist

Create a checklist of things you are looking for in your employees; this should be done before you start receiving applications. It can include the type of workers you want, a progress pane that keeps track of all the interviews and a review section so that you can pinpoint any notes, thoughts or concerns you have about each individual once you have reviewed their applications. Good administration will help you enormously in this process.

Check Their Skills

Use lots of different methodologies to assess your candidates’ knowledge and skills. Set up a test task and ask the candidates to complete it at the interview. Check their IT capabilities as well as their customer service skills if relevant for the job, by giving them a trial run on the phone or at the desk.

CVs can tell you a lot about a candidate but it can’t and won’t tell you everything you need to know. Aside from the fact that people do lie and exaggerate on their resumes sometimes, things like confidence, competence, initiative, communication skills, customer service skills and problem solving abilities can only be witnessed by seeing them in action.

Look for Compatibility

Particularly when you are going to be working in a very small team, you want someone who fits with your company’s culture and you can get along well with. During your interview process, make sure you consider whether you think the candidate has the right kind of personality, social skills and approach to be compatible. You want someone who has the same drive and enthusiasm as you if it’s just going to be you and them for a while. And someone you can trust, rely on and get along well with. It’ll be a long working day if not.

Use Social Media

You’ll be amazed what you can find out about a potential employee by researching their social media presence.

And it’s not just good for getting a more rounded picture of who your candidate is, it can also be used as a tool for finding and attracting the perfect candidate to your company too. More than 90% of companies now choose to recruit through social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick look at the some of the top FTSE 100 companies’ social media accounts will show you how heavily they rely on social media to get them the best in the field when it comes to recruiting these days. And if it’s good enough for FTSE 100 companies, it’s good enough for you!

Ask for references

References are essential from a professional point of view. Once you have a potential candidate in mind, it’s a good idea to contact their referees and ask them the questions you still have about a candidate. It’s an opportunity to know the candidate from the perspective of someone who has worked with them and has experience of their abilities and shortcomings. Ideally, contact at least two referees and analyse their answers based on the interview you conducted to finalise your choice.

Trust Your Instinct  

Lastly, you may have a perfect candidate on paper, but they might not feel right for other reasons. Don’t disregard your instinct on a candidate. If someone who isn’t as well qualified for the role according to their CV does particularly well in the practical assessments, has a good temperament and seems really eager to learn, then you could be missing a golden opportunity to recruit someone who will give their everything to your business.

In summary, follow well-planned procedures and take advice from others who have more experience of the recruitment process than you if you can, but at the end of the day it is you who will be working with and potentially mentoring the person you choose so make sure you only offer the job to someone who not only possesses the right skills and knowledge, but is someone you can get along well with and you can rely on to not let you down. In small teams this is particularly important.

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