By Kevin Williams

Owing and running a business is filled with risk and reward, highs and lows and challenges that test your abilities at every turn.  One aspect of running your own business that can be especially tricky is managing employees.  These challenges come in the form of hiring new talent, managing and expanding that talent, as well as firing employees that aren’t working out like you’d hoped.

Hiring is always exciting as it’s a sign your business is growing. It’s also one of the most critical aspects of running a highly successful business.  Finding and hiring the right employees will help elevate your business to new heights and, if you hire the right people the return-on-investment (ROI) will be significant.

Similarly, hiring the wrong people can have a significantly negative impact on the long term outlook for your business.  Whether the wrong hire is somebody that’s simply not capable of performing the job, is dishonest or stealing from the company or its partners and customers or an employee that has a negative influence on your existing team, the consequences can be devastating.

In my experience, I’ve been hiring employees for more than 10 years.  I’ve been successful and lucky but I’ve also hired my fair share of bad employees.  Over the years I’ve developed a list of things to look for in potential employees.  This list has evolved and the more time that passes, the more experience I gain, the more success I’ve had in hiring the right people.

Here are my tips for hiring the right people.

  •  Be specific about contributions: Ask the candidate to provide examples of successful projects that are similar to tasks you expect them to perform for you.  Ask them to differentiate between their roles and contributions as opposed to what was accomplished by the team as a whole.  Often in an interview situation candidates try to take credit for things they didn’t actually do or if they didn’t have anything to do with it more often than not it’s expressed as a collective effort or referred to as “we.”
  • Allow for awkward pauses: I find that if a person is confident in themselves and what they’re saying they won’t be uncomfortable with unexpected pauses in the interview.  If someone is nervous or trying to hide something they tend to keep talking and will give away valuable information that they might typically withhold.
  • Ask how they handle adversity:  In difficult situations a person’s true character will come to light.  Ask the candidate to explain a difficult situation and how they handled it.
  • Pay attention to non verbal queues: A person will give away a lot of information unintentionally simply by the way they react to certain situations. If a person looks away he or she is probably lying.  If their voice trails off while they’re speaking it’s usually a sign that they don’t know what they’re talking about.  Pay attention to when or if these types of behaviors manifest.
  • Check references.  Don’t just settle for the list of names the applicant provides. Typically these are people the applicant has talked to in advance and coordinated with to say nice things about them. If the reference simply confirms the dates an employee worked for the company that’s usually a sign that they don’t have anything nice to say about the employee.  If the responses to questions are vague and don’t have any supporting examples to validate what they’re saying, that can also be a red flag.

Hiring is more of an art than it is a science.  The ability to read a situation, gather data and understand what’s being communicated both verbally and non-verbally is critical to hiring the right person.  Through a concerted effort we can learn to fine tune hiring resulting in long lasting companywide growth and development.