Hiring is one of the most crucial aspects of growing your business. However, getting the right employees through your door can often be a challenge. Not only do you need to source qualified candidates, but you'll also need to ask the right questions that truly probe whether the candidate will be a good fit for the job technically, as well as culturally. Even once you decide that the candidate is worthy for the job, the challenge isn't over—you still need to sell them on the role and convince them to actually accept your offer.
To help small business overcome these challenges, we asked experienced hiring managers and executives for their best tips to attract and hire great employees.
1. Look for Transferable Skills
Eric Hobbs, CEO, Technology Associates
I always ask what other skills the candidate wants to learn. It doesn't matter whether or not it's related to work, because what I'm more curious about is what steps they are taking to achieve a certain level of expertise in their chosen skill or activity.
I once hired someone whose hobby was knitting. She told me she liked it because it has taught her patience and concentration to start and finish projects that she started. How can you not hire someone like that?
Plus, I found, that those who are always willing to learn or try something new, not only make for the most creative and innovative employees, they're also the most interesting people you'll ever meet.
2. Pursue Passive Candidates
Ketan Kapoor, CEO, Mettl
One great implicit tactic for hiring the top employees for your company is chasing the passive candidates who are doing really well in their organizations and have spent a good amount of time there. That doesn't mean that active candidates are any less capable, but your efforts must start with passive candidates first and move on to considering the active candidates.
The effective way to hire passive candidates comes with the understanding that nobody is ever satisfied absolutely with a job and finding that one thing that is the source of dissatisfaction will lead you to your coveted hire. Frame your offer around how that one unsatisfactory point can be fulfilled by your organization.
3. Advertise Your Perks
Matt Dunne, Hiring Manager, Healing Holidays
Make sure you list all the perks of the job and workplace in the job description. Workplace culture is becoming as important to good job candidates as their level of pay. In today's high-pressure workplaces, it's vital to employees that they feel happy and confident in their roles. Good candidates have their choice of jobs, so you need to ensure you pinpoint the perks on offer at your company which set you aside from other businesses.
List these in the job description and reiterate them in the job interview, just in case the candidates didn't pick up on them or forgot about them. This will instill your workplace as a quality one when they are deciding which offer to take.
4. Provide Value to the Candidate
Susan Power, CEO, Power HR
My experience is that many employers forget to fully explore what the candidate is looking for in its ideal employer in terms of employer value proposition. Many employers have a clear employer value proposition and communicate to candidates during the interview to sell them on why the candidate should select them as an employer. However, many forget to ask open ended questions like tell me what you most valued from an employee perspective of all the employers you have worked for in your career?
For instance, an entrepreneurial company offers a completely different employee value proposition than a large corporate organization. There are many employees that are not cut out to work at an entrepreneurial start-up, as the expectations and work climate will be different. This needs to be fully explored for the purpose of attracting and retaining the right employees for the employer.
5. Turn on the Charm
Will Craig, Managing Director, LeaseFetcher
If you really want an employee to accept an offer with your company, you'll need to charm them. I suggest arranging a face-to-face meeting with the candidate, to officially offer them the job. Doing this in person shows the more human side to your business, and shows that you respect the person applying for the position. Your meeting doesn't have to be a fancy dinner at a restaurant—it can be as simple as just an invite to have a coffee in your office.
I once interviewed a high-flying developer who had a job offer with a high-flying software company which was offering better terms that mine, but because of the personal, one-on-one attention I showed them throughout the application process, they chose my offer instead. When asked about why they had made that decision, they said that I treated them more like a human rather than a tool!
6. Get to Know the Candidate as a Person
Laura MacLeod, Founder, From the Inside Out Project
If your goal is to hire top employees, you need to interview effectively. This means you need to do your research—read the application materials and resume before the interview. You will be prepared with some background on the candidate and can begin to formulate questions. You'll also demonstrate that you have taken the time to prepare and that the interview is important to you. This may seem obvious to some, but not all. I have personally had the experience of my interviewer saying, "Oh, I haven't even looked at your resume, so why don't you just tell me about yourself?" This doesn't set a professional tone or instill much confidence in the organization.
Welcome the candidate authentically and get to know them as a person, before jumping into the work info. The idea here is to get to know the candidate and make them comfortable. This is how you'll be able to see what you'll get in a worker. We have all memorized best practice answers for the standard questions. The goal is to get beyond that to the authentic person.
7. Try it Before You Buy it!
Dan Zautis, Director of Marketing, Patina Solutions
Many companies test drive an employee, a leader, or even an executive to avoid making the wrong hire. They can bring someone on for a short-term engagement. It could be a half day, a week, or even months. Depends on the need. How'd the talent do? How'd they get along with potential teammates? Both sides get to test each other in this model. Deliverables are produced, as well. Everyone wins.
8. Put the Candidate at Ease
Ian McClarty, President & CEO, PhoenixNAP Global IT Services
Studies show that the more comfortable a candidate feels in an interview, the better they will perform, and the more satisfied the interviewers are with the outcomes. Hiring managers wanting to come across as being tougher may instead appear arrogant or attempt to intimidate a candidate so that they "know that the expectations are high". Increased anxiety in an interviewee usually creates the opposite effect desired— they may resort to the typically off-putting behaviors of talking too much or for too long, shutting down and offering fewer quality answers to questions or feel personally offended. They may also feel somewhat disrespected at the length of a process and being made to present their talents again and again for various team members.
An interview should be a two-sided dialogue meant to inform, highlight, clarify and draw out the best questions on both sides. The better both can do, the more clear the potential match or realization that it's not a fit.
9. Provide Flexible Working Conditions
Alex Robinson, General Manager, Team Building Hero
A very accessible, yet still somewhat untapped way to attract top talent is to provide a remote work option and flexible work hours. For example, Team Building Hero is based in NYC, but we've found high contributing team members in other major cities across the US and Canada who choose to work with us because of this flexibility. A remote workforce is also a great way to retain your best employees, especially with Millennials who often move to different cities or choose to travel for extended periods of time. At the moment we have a team member traveling throughout Europe, and aside from minor accommodations for time differences, the working relationship remains smooth and productive.