Editor’s Note: This article was originally published June 26, 2012 and was updated in June 2019 for accuracy.
You can’t become a successful business unless you get the right people on your team. Do you know how to bring on the best employees? Many of the small business owners and executives we’ve met pride themselves on being able to pick winners by “gut feel.” But too often, they find themselves with non-performers or even “bad fits” that can hinder even the most productive employees.
So what’s the answer? Stop hiring by instinct and start hiring based on evidence that the person you hire has already demonstrated the capabilities you need now and in the near future.
Before you even start looking at candidates, first make a list of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) the person will need to be successful in the role. For example, an operations manager might need to know about interstate commerce regulations, have skills in automated logistics systems and creative problem solving, and demonstrate attitudes such as self-discipline and drive for results. Then, from your list of KSAs, pick about 6 of the most important ones and create a behavioral question for each designed to determine the extent to which each candidate has demonstrated that knowledge, skill or attitude.
Here are a few examples:
- Tell me about a specific time when your knowledge of interstate commerce regulations made a difference to your employer.
- Please describe one of the most difficult logistics problems you’ve faced. Tell me exactly what you did and why.
- I’d like to hear about a situation you’ve faced on the job that required some serious self-discipline on your part.
During the interviews, be sure to ask all questions of all applicants. Take good notes and identify the responses that really reflect the skills you need – as well as the ones that concern you.
You may need to remind the candidate that you want specifics rather than generalities – applicants often tend to focus on what they “always” do or what they believe is “right” rather than providing information on one specific incident. And don’t be afraid to probe for details.
Then after all the interviews are over – review your notes and hire the candidate who’s clearly demonstrated the KSAs that will help you and the team move forward – and not slow you down.
After you bring on the best employees, the collective, coordinated efforts of your employees are the key factors in achieving financial stability and growth, which are the main objectives of most SMBs (including those Avilar works with).
We often talk about talent management as an organizational process designed to attract, manage, develop, motivate, and retain key people in order to create a high-performance, sustainable organization that meets its business goals. Talent management isn’t just for larger organizations though. SMBs need to get in on the action as well. Now that you’ve hired the right people, follow these additional steps:
- Manage the performance of employees so their efforts are aligned with your mission, strategy, and goals.
- Train and develop your people so their skills remain up-to-date or to start preparing them to move into hard-to-fill positions.
- Keep people engaged and committed so that you retain the best.
- Make sure your business is sustainable through change and growth.
While these steps are very “high level,” it’s a good start towards optimizing your workforce. Follow our blog for more in-depth articles about competencies, skills management, workforce planning and other key topics to guide you in building a successful organization.
Ready to take your workforce to the next level? Check out our competency management software solutions and low-cost learning management tools to learn more. You can also contact us anytime at email@example.com for a free 15-minute consultation with a workforce optimization expert.