No matter what kind of business you run, it's important that you have quality employees to help your company run and grow. But finding the right employees can be taxing and more difficult than you think.
To hire the right person for the job, you need to look past candidates' resumes and cover letters and learn more about them as people. Employees need to have the skills and experience required to do the job, but they also need to fit in with the company culture and be willing to take direction and handle challenges as they come.
So how do you go about making the right decision? These eight hiring strategies will help you weed out the wannabes and zero in on the shining stars.
1. Focus on the candidate's potential.
Nothing is more important in a new hire than personality. While having the right skill set may seem essential, the fact is, skills can be acquired, but personalities cannot.
"Social intelligence — being able to navigate social situations and work well with others — is very important," said Maynard Brusman, a San Francisco-based psychologist and owner of consulting firm Working Resources.
Brusman advised judging interviewees' social skills during the interview. For example, if they can't make eye contact or don't elaborate while answering questions, they may not be the best fit.
"Don't become pigeonholed into thinking the person with the exact necessary experience is the right person for the role," said Tom Gimbel, CEO and founder of staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network. "Consider soft skills — like interpersonal skills, communication skills, thought processes and emotional intelligence — because they matter."
2. Check social media profiles.
Like most employers, you probably already make it a point to do a background check (including at least a quick Google search on the candidate's name) to see what comes up about that person online. But if you're not looking through the candidate's social media profiles, you could be missing a key way to find out more about the individual as a person and an employee.
Susie Wang, founder of business social networking company incville, said you should always search an interviewee's social media sites, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Why? Because how that person behaves on social media is a good indication of what kind of person the individual is and how your prospect might fit into your company's culture. [15 Social Media Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Career ]
3. Fit the personality to the job.
A candidate's personality is another really important factor to consider. You may not want a narcissistic employee tending to elderly patients in your nursing home, but it might not be a bad idea to hire one to model your new clothing line, for example.
"What kind of person you hire depends on [the] culture of organization and the kind of job," Brusman said. "A great person with all kinds of skills may be [a] good fit for one and [a] poor fit for another, simply based on their personality type."
And just because a person seems like the right fit for your company, doesn't mean that person is the right candidate for the job(s) you have open. You have to make sure that the employee you hire is up to the task.
4. Ask the right kinds of questions.
You can't come right out and ask someone if they're a jerk. But, you can ask questions that will help you figure it out on your own.
"If you ask someone why they left their last job and they blame someone else, it's important to follow up with another question," said Paul Harvey, a professor of management at the University of New Hampshire. "If they continue to blame external forces for their problems, you may want to look for another employee."
Some other great questions to ask? John Schwarz, CEO and founder of workforce analytics company Visier, suggested the following:
- Who are you going to be 10 years from today?
- Why do you work?
- What makes you get up in the morning and do what you do?
These questions can tell you a lot about a candidate's drive and ambition, which is important in helping you understand how the person works, and whether or not your prospective employee will grow with your business.
5. Let candidates interview you, too.
Don't be the only one to ask questions. To help determine if your prospective candidate has the right personality for your particular job, it's important to help that person understand the company's work environment.
"It's important to be open and honest about what it's going to be like to work for your company. You want to give a realistic preview of the work environment," Brusman said.
Allowing prospective employees to interview you for a change will give you a chance to see what's important to them. Plus, it will give candidates a chance to determine that they want to keep pursuing a job at your company, or to decide that it's not the right fit for them — and that's just as important.
6. Think of your other employees.
You have a legal obligation to provide your other employees with a safe and healthy work environment. If a potential employee gives any indication that he or she could be aggressive or has an anger problem, you should find someone else.
Employees who have feelings of entitlement — which translates into unreasonable expectations in terms of advancement, rewards and compensation — are often the ones who take their disappointment out on others in anger. Keep an eye out for those personality types, Harvey warned.
Another tip is to get your employees involved in the hiring process.
"To ensure the candidate is the right fit for the company and the company is the right fit for them, each candidate should meet with four or five different staff members individually," Gimbel said. "If a few employees have concerns, it's likely they aren't the right fit for the organization.
7. Don't judge a book by its cover.
It's easy to write off candidates based on their appearance, but it's more important that you consider how well they can do the job and if they're a good fit in other ways.
"I have had the experience of hiring kids from school who were disheveled, unpresentable [and] inarticulate, [but who] had a very strong visceral commitment to what they were doing and passion for what they wanted to be," Schwarz said.
That's why, when you're making hiring decisions, it's important to think outside the box. You never know — candidates who fall outside the lines of your requirements may still be the perfect fit for your business, Schwarz noted.
8. Know that not all hires work out.
You're only human, so even after following all these tips, it's entirely possible that you might still make a bad hire. If you have tried to solve whatever issues have arisen as a result of a new hire, and your attempts have failed, it's okay to let the person go. After all, you want an employee who is going to add to your company culture, not make it worse.
If you do make a bad hire, Wang advised employers to cut bait and end the employment as soon as possible before investing too much time trying to fix the problems. As a small business owner, she noted, you have enough on your plate, and you don't want to add a challenging employee to your already full list of tasks.
This story was originally published on July 28, 2010, and was updated on May 4, 2015. Business News Daily Managing Editor Jeanette Mulvey and Assistant Editor Nicole Fallon also contributed to this story.