And how to determine what answers you’ll want to hear.
You’ve cultivated your vision, picked the name, tackled all the necessary paperwork and started a small business. It has gone so well that you’re ready to make your first hire.
Here’s how to find the perfect candidate.
What are your qualifications?
It’s an obvious interview question, but it doesn’t have an obvious
answer—unless the small business owner has set specific expectations for the
position, says Michael Dash, president of CarPartKings.com, an online car-part
seller based in Great Neck, N.Y. “If you do not have a clear picture in your
head of what you are looking for, you will not find the right fit for the position,”
For their first hire, Dash and his business partner were stretched too
thin between running the business and the technical Web development tasks. They
sat down and wrote out every technical task they performed, such as writing
codes, and determined which ones their new Web developer could take on.
When the first of 35 candidates came in for an interview, Dash knew
what he wanted to hear.
What is your perfect job?
A small business owner typically needs an employee who will grow with
the company, says Lois Margolin, co-owner of Chelsea Reservations, an online
reservation systems company in Coral Springs, Fla. When Margolin asks this
question, she wants to know if the candidate will be an employee at her
business for at least five years. Margolin has employees
who have been with her company for more than 20 years.
Dash agrees. What a candidate says about their ideal future job “gives
you a good idea of what the person is looking for,” he says. “If they say, ‘Eventually,
I want to be running my own company,’ that’s a great response because you know
that they’re motivated and they’re going to give you as much as they can.”
However, if they say, “‘I love my role, and I’m not really looking for anything
else,’ there’s really not much room for growth there.”
How do you perform in a team
candidate can’t rely on technical qualifications alone. First hires are joining
a small staff, and Margolin says that employees must have a personality that
supports the work environment you hope to build.
Margolin recommends looking for a candidate who boasts their communications skills. If he or she then adds an ability to work independently, it’s a subtle sign that is his or her preference.