General Business Forum Brought to you by Salesforce

Taking the plunge: How to hire for the first time

  1. How to hire for the first time
    Kat Haylock

    Kat Haylock Community Editor Administrator

    452 231
    6 |

    Hiring is a leap of faith. The person you meet at the interview stage could be completely different from the person you deal with day to day.

    Hiring employees is a minefield, especially for small businesses who can’t afford to waste time, money and, often overlooked, emotional capital on a bad hire. Most intimidating of all is if you have never hired someone before.

    On UKBF, there are plenty of business owners who struggle to hire for the first time. We’ve updated this article to include some of the great advice we’ve had recently.

    Take a step back

    The first step is to check you can afford the employee. While it’s natural that you’ll want to grow your business, rushing into employment could leave you - and your employee - in a difficult position in future. Make sure their contribution will increase your business by a considerable amount more than they are costing you.

    If you’re thinking about outsourcing the work or hiring freelancers, choose this route because it fits you – not because it’s an easy option. There are plenty of problems that arise from outsourcing (communication, lack of quality control) and it can end up being just as time consuming as a direct hire.

    Consider what kind of employee you’re looking for, and don’t be tempted to hire from your friends and family. As any UKBF member will testify, going into business with people you have personal relationships with rarely ends well.

    Focus on your business’s needs

    One user recently admitted to being “terrified” at the prospect of hiring staff. It’s understandable – a quick browse of any HR forum will demonstrate how wrong things can go with a bad hire.

    As Newchodge says, it’s important to have a person specification in mind and to make sure the person specification is justifiable in relation to the role. If your person specification states you’re looking for a certain gender or age group, but you can’t elaborate on why it’s required for the particular job, you might have a problem explaining why someone outside that specification isn’t a good match.  

    In terms of experience, you might be looking for a graduate who’s keen to learn and likely to stick around for a couple of years. Or you might be after someone who’s well-connected, has some industry connections that can lead to jobs and knows how to develop well and blend in with your current company structure.

    Either way, consider how much time you’ll need to dedicate to training. For Cube Digital, the lack of established internal processes was one of the biggest hurdles. It’s well worth taking the time to write out exactly what you want your employees to do, and how you want it done. Be as detailed as you can be.

    As they found, some parts of the work could be contracted out, meaning their employee could focus on what was really important.

    Prepare your interview questions carefully

    First impressions count, obviously, but preparation for the interview is key: the interview is for you as much as it is for the candidate. JacksonInn writes, “It’s important that you have a clear idea about what you want from an employee and ask them questions that are going to elicit the information that you are interested in.

    “Whilst asking them about their previous position and how they have managed situations may give you an idea about them, this is likely the stuff that they would have rehearsed.”

    Concentrate on why they’re leaving their present position. You might think that you will make the perfect employer, but if they’re working for a larger firm, they will be taking a big risk by working for a firm where they will be the only employee.

    Culture fit matters

    And it’s not just qualifications. You need to nail down what your dream employee is. What that is depends on your circumstances and the service you offer. “I used to employ people when I had the call answering service, and I was far more interested in their personality and how they would fit in rather than their previous experience,” says Ashley Price. “And I ended up only ever having one bad employee.”

    In other situations, you may need someone who can just get the job done. But would a seasoned sales person really leave a cushy job to start at a small business? Probably not. The solution could be hiring a rookie. “Somebody fresh, hassle free and most importantly hungry,” writes Redd.

    Get professional advice – and don’t panic

    When it comes to drawing up a job offer letter and terms of service, get a HR professional involved. As Newchodge says, getting these things right at the beginning is important.

    Most of all, though, don’t panic. Employing someone is a two-way street, and your employee’s likely to be much more worried about the situation than you are. Be open and honest with them, and you should get the same in return.

    As Seb de Lamos suggests, frame a three month probationary period as being beneficial for both of you – an opportunity to work out whether you’re a good fit for each other. You’ll know within three months if it’s going to work. If it’s not, there’s no room for sentimentality here, so be quick to make the call.

    Last, some great advice from Alison Wright:

    “Treat your staff well, pay them properly and communicate, and a lot of staff issues can be avoided.”

    What did you learn from your first time hire, and what's been your experience since? Do you have any rules that you follow religiously?

  2. Julia Sta Romana

    Julia Sta Romana UKBF Regular Free Member

    102 30
    I can definitely relate to this. You can tell early on whether the employee would have the right attitude for the job. That's why it's important to ask the right questions during a job interview. Because it's not just the applicant's skill/experience you have to look at. How would they react under stress? Do they work well with others? Would they be comfortable in your company culture? These values are just as important. You can teach a skills. Employees can gain experience. It's much harder to change a person's attitude.
    Posted: Apr 13, 2018 By: Julia Sta Romana Member since: Apr 18, 2017
    Kat Haylock likes this.
  3. luis62halverson0298

    luis62halverson0298 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    0 0
    Prepare your interview questions carefully ;)
    Posted: Apr 20, 2018 By: luis62halverson0298 Member since: Apr 3, 2018
  4. sm9ai

    sm9ai UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    25 2
    Where do you look for staff?

    We are after a part time, school hours person, but haven't really had much luck finding the right person.

    Everywhere we look for people seems to want money to provide people!
    Posted: Aug 24, 2018 By: sm9ai Member since: Sep 5, 2011
  5. RobSwan

    RobSwan UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    3 2
    My personal experience (I've been an employer myself and a senior manager with recruitment responsibility for several past employers) is that you just don't know until you've worked with someone. I haven't found any other way which produces reliable and repeatable results. Some people interview/test well and others don't but it's often a poor indicator of what you really need as an employer: commitment, enthusiasm, initiative, willingness and ability to learn, reliability, and whether or not you 'click' - which matters a lot in my opinion. My advice is to set a three month probationary period - that's enough to 'know' - and don't be afraid to dump anyone who isn't what you want - and do it as soon as you realise. Be honest with them about doing this when you first meet and you'll soon put off most people who aren't what you're looking for anyway. Being firm, frank and blatantly honest - to the point of bluntness - generally works wel for me and most people actually appreciate it. Good luck :)
    Posted: Aug 27, 2018 By: RobSwan Member since: Aug 27, 2018
  6. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Legend Full Member

    10,079 4,125
    And my advice is to try them out for one day, in exchange for 'trouser' money. Then a week and then a month.
    Posted: Aug 27, 2018 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  7. landalan

    landalan UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    0 0
    Good advice
    Posted: Sep 10, 2018 By: landalan Member since: Jul 27, 2018