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Hiring and interview tips for business owners

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For many business owners, hiring a new employee is a challenge, and I’m frequently asked to help identify and screen candidates.

My consulting practice doesn’t provide legal or human resources services. I bring a hiring manager’s perspective on an effective process. Here are some of the hiring manager interview tips I share with business owners.

Compare the candidate’s social media profile and resume

Candidates often list additional information in their online profiles that is not included on their resumes. Discrepancies can be a red flag, but not always.

I recently checked a candidate’s LinkedIn profile for a client, which listed a position unrelated to the candidate’s area of expertise. It turned out that the candidate had worked in her family’s business, which brought additional capabilities to her prospective employer.

Focus on legal, job-related questions

Review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s prohibited practices here before you interview, or consult an employment attorney for specific legal guidance. Many questions that seem merely conversational can be illegal, including:

  • Questions about marriage or children, such as: “How old are your kids?”
  • Questions about ethnicity, such as: “That’s an unusual last name – what’s the origin?”
  • Questions about age or health, such as: “What year did you graduate?”

If a candidate discloses personal information without your asking, it’s best to refocus the discussion on skills and experience.

Review the candidate’s work history in reverse order

Beginning with early career experiences can provide valuable insight into a candidate’s professional development. Questions that can be helpful are:

  • “What skills did you develop in that position?”
  • “If I were to ask your coworkers at that company about you, what would they say?”

Reverse order review can uncover a candidate’s capacity to learn, adapt and apply new skills.

Clarify your process and the candidate’s intentions

If you are genuinely interested in a candidate, wrap up the interview with an explanation of the next steps in your hiring process and your timeframe for making an offer. These pre-offer steps may include:

  • Checking references
  • Meeting other members of your team
  • Asking permission to conduct/conducting a background check

Two excellent questions to ask at this point are:

  • Is there anything I’ve described that would prevent you from moving forward with this process?
  • If we were to make you a job offer (this week), when would you be in a position to make a decision?

Whether it’s triggered by a resignation, a dismissal or company growth, developing an effective hiring process is time well spent.  As “Good to Great” author Jim Collins noted, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”