14 Best Practices for Hiring Employees at a Small Business

Elizabeth Lockwood

Within the United States, there are over 30 million small businesses. These businesses have been doing their best to growat a steady rate, but as Covid-19 ravaged the country, that growth slowed in late 2019 and the whole of 2020. Currently, only 200,000 companies in America have more than 100 employees. The majority of small businesses only have between one to four employees.

With such a limited staff, it’s absolutely crucial that every member on your small business team is as perfect of a fit as they can be. Even a single bad hire can adversely affect your company’s future and derail the progress your company has worked so hard to make. 

This article will cover the top 14 best practices for hiring employees at a small business. Understanding these practices will help you attract and retain the best talent for your open positions. The 14 best practices for hiring new employees for your small business are:

1. Creating a detailed job description 

Creating a detailed job description will help you decide the kind of worker you need for the available position. A good job description outlines the following aspects of the role:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The qualifications needed¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The level of experience needed for the job

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The responsibilities that the employee will handle

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The available compensation¬†

A vague job description may discourage prospective hires from applying for the available opening. But a well-written, detailed job description will attract the right candidates and get new talent excited about working for your business. 

You’ll want to make sure your job description helps job seekers learn about your company culture. This is very important as many of today’s job seekers are looking for companies that have a great work atmosphere and can give them a good work-life balance. Include a summary of your company culture in the job description. This summary should briefly state what potential job candidates can expect if they decide to work for your company. 

You should also talk about any non-financial perks that come with the available job vacancy. Potential new hires will be more attracted to a company that offers more than just a salary. For example, if your company offers daycare services for employees who have toddlers, discounts on local gym memberships, or even an employee discount on your own products or services, say so!  

Keep in mind, the job description is just the first step in hiring employees for your small business. It allows you to set your expectations about the vacant role and what the new hire will have to do to excel at it. This will make it far easier to attract qualified candidates and for them to transition seamlessly into your company.

2. Assess the current and future needs of your business

Making the right hiring decision requires you to focus on addressing the current and future needs of your business. For instance, consider the current problems the business is facing due to the ripple effects of Covid-19. Considering the needs of your business will give you a better idea of what your company truly needs and help you hire employees that can help the business grow. 

Pinpoint what your small business is currently missing. Look at your existing workforce and determine which skill set isn’t currently there. Examine the future needs of your business and the long-term goals that you have created. Once you’ve identified your future needs, you can choose a new hire with the skills and experience to contribute to the future success of your business. 

Small businesses experience more challenges than any other type of business entity and have alot of gaps that they need to fill. Look for ambitious job seekers who can fulfill the current and future needs of your business. Think about the role or roles you want to fill and ensure that you have all the information about what the role requires. The more information you have about what the position needs, the better you will be at making a good hiring decision. 

3. Make use of the internet

The internet is one of the best resources available to small businesses. Make good use of this vast resource when hiring new employees. Here are a few ways you can wield this tool to practice better hiring methods:

Use social media 

Social media has become a great way for small businesses to recruit prospective job seekers. It allows you to interact with interested people searching for a job like the one you offer. This makes it easy for you to learn about the potential candidate and their qualifications for the vacant position. 

Social media can also help small businesses build a good reputation. Job seekers will want to learn as much as they can about a vacant position and the business before they apply for that role. 

Make use of job posting sites

Many good job posting sites can help small businesses look for qualified candidates. Some of the most popular job posting sites that small businesses can use are:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†LinkedIn

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Glassdoor

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Indeed

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Craigslist¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Monster

These job sites provide a good way of looking for available job seekers quickly and easily. In return, you can also give information about the available job position. Job posting sites are an economical way of looking for qualified potential new hires. Some job posing sites will even automatically rank the available job seekers for the position you have advertised. 

Conduct interviews online

The internet can help small businesses to conduct job interviews online by offering resources such as Zoom. Online interviews have become very popular due to the economic effects of Covid-19 and are a cost-effective way of vetting qualified job seekers. Online interviews are perfect for small businesses that work remotely and do not have a centralized office. 

4. Create a pool of qualified candidates for the available position 

The number of job seekers for any available vacant position can be very high. You need to create a pool of qualified candidates from all of the applications you’ve received. Do not choose a large pool here. Instead, narrow your selection down to several qualified candidates that are a cut above the rest. 

Creating a pool of possible candidates makes it easier to hire new employees for small businesses. Choose the pool based on the needs of the job and the qualifications of the job seekers. You should make use of the job description when narrowing down the number of qualified candidates that could get the job. 

A pool of qualified candidates can also help ensure that you have someone else to hire if your initial choice doesn’t work out. An ideal pool of qualified potentials for a single position should consist of at least five candidates. When narrowing down to this number, you should:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Conduct research about the skills of each candidate¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Examine the references provided by the candidates¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Examine the compatibility of the qualified candidates with your existing workforce

Keep the pool of qualified candidates on file as you might need them in the future. A small business can grow and you may need to hire more workers to handle growing demand. 

5. Create a plan for the interview

Interviews - Choosing The Right Format

After you have identified your pool of qualified candidates, plan for the interview. A face-to-face interview needs to have a structure composed of specific questions designed to test the candidates’ suitability. 

The questions you develop for the interview should help you make a clear choice of the candidate you should hire. There are often classic interview questions that most companies ask their candidates but you should focus on developing a unique interview plan. A unique interview plan can help you choose candidates that are perfectly suited for your company.  

Some of the types of interview plans you can use are:

Panel interviews 

Panel interviews are good for identifying the right candidate if the number of qualified candidates is very high. There are numerous interviewers which means there will be a variety of questions that the panel can ask the interviewees.

Panel interviews may be intimidating to job seekers but this is a good way of testing the true nature of the candidates. It is much easier for a panel to prepare for an interview and you can get a much better-balanced perspective from the interviewers. 

Phone and video interviews 

Phone and video interviews have become increasingly popular and are a low-cost method of interviewing, mainly used to interview out-of-town candidates or if the candidate will work virtually or remotely for the company. Phone and video interviews are best suited for candidates the business already trusts and knows will perform well.  

Planning for a phone and video interview should follow similar steps to planning an in-person interview. A phone and video interview can also occur before a secondary, in-person interview of the qualified candidates.

In-person interviews

A classic in-person interview is the most common format of interviewing that most small businesses still use. A face-to-face interview can tell you a lot about a person and helps the manager learn more about the candidates and decide whether or not they are the right fit for the business.

The best way to conduct an in-person interview is by:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Being courteous to the candidates

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Not asking generic questions¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Actively listening to the candidate as they give their answers

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Treating¬†each candidate equally¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Explaining the next steps after the interview to the candidate

Ensure that you guide the interview and avoid asking lead-in questions. For instance, the interviewer can ask general questions that allow the candidate to provide answers that shed light on who they are as a person. Developing the right interview plan and format can ensure that you hire the right candidates. 

6. Participate in job fairs

Job fairs provide a unique opportunity for small businesses to attract new talent. Small businesses are often not that well known which presents a challenge in hiring new employees. Participating in job fairs is a good way to attract fresh talent, especially from institutions of higher learning. 

Job fairs are an inexpensive way of connecting and getting recognized by a wide range of job seekers. You don’t incur any advertising costs when you attend a job fair. 

Job fairs are a perfect way to find new employees for your small business because they let you meet new talent in person before any decisions are made. This reduces the time it may have taken the business to plan for interviews and engage in a lengthy recruitment process. 

Job fairs also provide small businesses with an opportunity to communicate with other businesses in the same industry. This can help your business learn how to gain a competitive advantage over other players. Working with other businesses can help your company improve its hiring practices and network in your community.

When your small business attends job fairs, you have a chance to grow your brand. Job fairs are good for brand awareness and for developing a good reputation within the industry. This will in turn make your business more attractive to new talent, making it easier to hire more workers. Brand awareness is also important because prospective job seekers want to associate with a known brand. 

7. Advertise the job vacancy 

If you aren’t able to attend a job fair or you need to expand the talent pool, advertise the job vacancy. You can use online job boards to advertise for the vacancies available in your small business. We’ve already mentioned some of the popular job boards such as Indeed and Glassdoor. Job boards can help businesses advertise their vacancies and give them a chance to examine the resumes of qualified candidates. 

Small businesses can also advertise their job vacancies through their existing workforce. You should not underestimate the number of qualified candidates your current employees may know are great for the position. You should also advertise the vacancy on your company’s website. 

A well-structured job advertisement can help attract the right candidate for the available position. Avoid using general adverts because they will appeal to too many candidates. 

A specific job advert can appeal to the appropriate candidates and encourage them to apply for the position. Your job advert should provide information about:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The available position¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The work involved¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The company

The three above factors will influence how potential candidates view the job under advertisement. When creating a job advert, you’ll need to choose a channel to get it to the public. Social media has become a very popular medium but you may miss the intended target, especially if you are looking for experienced candidates. 

8. Treat candidates as you would treat customers

Treating candidates the same way as customers can help you in bettering your hiring practices. The way you treat candidates says a lot about your company, and qualified candidates will often be drawn to companies with a good history. You should always aim to create a positive first impression for every candidate even if they do not qualify. 

Treating qualified candidates with respect can help you create a pool of talent you can tap into if you need more workers in the future. Some of the ways you can improve how your company treats candidates are by:

Being hospitable 

Welcome all candidates to your business and help them feel comfortable. You can offer the candidates something to eat or drink while they wait for the interview. 

Respecting the candidate’s time 

Don’t keep candidates waiting for unnecessary periods. Make sure the interview gets started at the agreed-upon time. If you experience any delays, inform the candidate immediately and let them know you will be late. 

Treating candidates well in the modern age is key to building a good reputation. Candidates who have interacted with your business will often write a review of their experience online. Such information is accessible to other qualified recruits that you may not have vetted yet. This is why it’s important to ensure that candidates only have positive things to say about your business. 

9. Screen prospective recruits and examine their history 

Once you’ve identified prospective recruits you want to hire, begin an extensive screening process. You can miss a lot about qualified candidates even after you have conducted successful interviews. Conducting extensive background checks can help.

Check a candidate’s work history

Examine a candidate’s previous work history by speaking to their former employers. This can help you identify red flags such as laziness or a poor work ethic. A candidate’s work history can also reveal whether they are the right fit for the position available at your business. 

Conduct an online background check 

An online background check can help you verify the identity of the new recruit. In addition, you can learn about the credit history as well as the criminal record of anyone you want to hire. An extensive background check can save you from making a bad hiring decision that might damage your company’s reputation. 

A prospective candidate‚Äôs history can be a strong indicator of who they are and what they can offer your company. Taking the time to ensure that you‚Äėve made the right choice in hiring the best employees could determine the success of your small business.¬†

Double-check and compare resumes

Screen all the resumes you’ve received and check whether:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The skills mentioned in the resume match the skills needed for the vacant position¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The qualifications meet or surpass those required in the job description¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†The resume is general or customized to the position the candidate was applying for

You can compare the resumes you’ve received and select a pool of prospective recruits. Having a pool could ensure that you don’t need to begin the recruitment process all over again if they fall short in the screening stage. 

10. Design a suitable job offer 

Once you have narrowed down the list of qualified candidates, begin drafting a suitable job offer. Small businesses often find it difficult to make the same lucrative offers as big corporations. 

You can draft a great job offer by focusing on the advantages new talents can enjoy at your company such as:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Vast opportunities for growth¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Great career progression¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Unique benefits offered by the company¬†

Think about how much money the company can pay the recruit. Do not automatically offer the highest possible salary. Instead, design a job offer based on the prospective recruit’s needs. A strategy you can use is to ask the prospective recruit how much they want to get paid. This can give you a strong idea of the salary range for the position available. 

Letting the prospective recruits suggest how much they should get paid could help the company save money. The job offer should also include the exact terms of employment, including whether the position is full-time or part-time. 

There is no guarantee that once you make a job offer it will get accepted by the prospective candidate. This is also another reason why you need to have a pool of prospective recruits who are all equally qualified for the job. You can make a job offer over the phone or virtually after the interview process. This gives the prospective recruit plenty of time to go over the offer and make a decision. 

11. Examine previous candidates

Hiring employees for your small business may get easier if you focus on candidates you’ve already dealt with in the past. You may encounter a lot of qualified candidates who are a good fit for your business but were passed over at the time. Keeping a record of such candidates can help you in the future when you can make a job offer. 

The advantage of re-visiting past candidates is that it saves time as you’ve already screened their resumes and carried out background checks. However, it’s often difficult to find candidates who you have interviewed in the past who are still available. 

Past candidates are ideal because they may have gained new skills and become more experienced. This only makes the candidate more qualified and gives them a competitive edge over other candidates who may not be as experienced. If you encounter an over-qualified candidate, keep their resume on file because a position might open up in the future. 

12. Examine local labor laws and policies

When making hiring decisions, keep local labor laws and policies in mind. For instance, there maybe an incentive available to small businesses that hire from diverse and minority groups. Compliance with local labor laws should be a top priority inthe hiring of employees at small businesses. 

Local labor laws and policies should guide your company in drafting an employment contract for new hires. Failing to comply with the law opens you up to a lot of liability that could threaten the survival of your business. You should also consider federal labor laws to ensure you do not discriminate against anyone.

Employers must follow the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to ensure the safety of all employees. OSHA requires employers to provide their new employees with adequate training to ensure that they know how to perform their roles safely. 

Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies should also be considered when hiring new employees. States that have affirmative action policies require that all businesses hire a diverse workforce. Employers need to implement anti-discrimination practices when hiring new employees. This may involve:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Using a random system to pick a pool of qualified candidates¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Ensuring there is gender balance in the workforce¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Hiring throughout sourcing to ensure there is no discrimination¬†

Small businesses should have legal counsel who can guide them on the latest labor laws and policies to ensure there is compliance when hiring new employees. 

13. Make use of employee referral programs 

Small businesses often don’t have the luxury of hiring current employees for new vacant positions because of their size and expected growth. But you can develop an employee referral program internally and have your employees look for qualified candidates. Your current staff may be in a better position to understand what your business needs. 

An employee referral program is a network that may already have the type of candidates you want for the job. Making use of such a program when hiring employees for your small business can ensure better compatibility with your existing staff.

Employees share ideas with each other and can notify their employer when a qualified candidate is available. The main disadvantage of this is that employees will often refer people they know personally and who may not be a good fit for the job. But an employer can weed out unqualified candidates who are referrals of the existing staff. 

An employee referral program can help show the existing workforce that you value their input in the decision-making process of hiring new employees. This can strengthen the company culture, boost morale, and make your current staff feel more united. An employee referral program can also save time and reduce costs you may have incurred by:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Advertising the job vacancy¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Waiting to find the right candidate for the vacancy

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Explaining the needs of your business¬†

14. Create an efficient onboarding program 

Hiring a qualified candidate is not the end of the journey. A majority of new employees leave their new workplaces in the first few days after getting the job. An efficient onboarding program can help your new hires transition smoothly into your company’s workforce and ensure that new hires receive the support they need to begin working. 

Onboarding and training can occur simultaneously but they must complement each other. For instance, training on the new role can take place for a short period while onboarding is a long process that may take up to 12 months. Onboarding involves integrating the new employee with the company culture, interacting with the existing staff, and meeting the management. The goal of onboarding is to make the new employee feel at home in a new environment.

Some of the methods used in onboarding include:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Pairing the new employee with a current member of staff¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Taking the new employee on a tour of the business facilities

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Providing the new hire with a video explaining the company culture¬†

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Providing written materials on the history of the company

Contact Smith.ai to help improve your hiring practices

Implementing the best practices when hiring employees for your small business is critical to your success. However, small businesses may not have all of the resources required to implement all of the above-mentioned best practices in hiring new employees. 

At Smith.ai, we can provide you with the support your small business needs to attract the best talent in the market when you need to hire new employees. We can effectively market your company while advertising any job vacancies available in your organization. Our wide array of technology solutions allow you to keep us with your daily tasks and find the talent you need to help your business grow. Our services include:

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†24/7 Call Answering and Appointment Booking: With these services, you won‚Äôt miss any potential leads or existing clients while you step into interviews or go through applications

‚󏬆¬†¬†¬†¬†Lead Screening and Intake and Outbound Call-Backs: Don‚Äôt spend your time sifting through dead-end leads when you have candidates to screen or employees to train. Our virtual receptionists can handle these tasks while you focus on expanding your in-house team.

We’re so confident that your small business will love our services, we offer a 14-day, money-back guarantee. You can chat with us live, right on the website, 24 hours a day. Schedule your free 30-minute sales consultation today to learn more.

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Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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