What Should Small Businesses Look For When Recruiting?

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I’ve seen business owners approach hiring like someone approaching a buffet. It can be tempting to grab what you can in a hurry before anyone else gets there. 

Whilst it’s important to move quickly when you’ve found great talent, it’s also worth slowing down to think strategically about what the most important characteristics in a successful hire look like for your team.

Don’t fall into the trap of hiring someone quickly, to plug a hole and sacrifice talent. That’s like grabbing the bread rolls then missing out on the pork roast at the end of the table because you were hungry and didn’t want to wait.

Deep down, you already know that longer-term, hiring the wrong person costs time, money and resources you can’t afford to waste.

You might be thinking about which soft or technical skills will be successful in your role, which is a great start. Inject looks past characteristics like industry experience and detailed product knowledge, to the behaviours. We work on the premise that past behaviour is the most accurate predictor of future behaviour.


Don’t fall into the experience trap in recruitment

You hired someone with industry experience, glowing references and they said all the right things in the interview. Bulletproof, right?

Just months after their first day, other employees are complaining about the new recruitment – they’re making decisions without consulting others, causing friction with staff and not following company procedures.


How could this have happened when everything indicated they’d be a great hire?


Whilst it can be easy to believe that years of experience in your field will result in successful hiring results, you may have missed others, just as, if not more significant, indicators they weren’t the best fit for your business.


Questions you need to ask yourself in your next hiring process

There is no one right answer, however, depending on the particular role – senior, entry-level, graduate, sales, manager… to break it down, below are some questions to ask yourself through each stage of the recruitment process when hiring your next employee:


1. Resume

Seeing through the resume and being critical about the person who wrote it helps create a broader picture of why them and why this role.

  • If you asked them to include a cover letter, have they done so? Has this person addressed you or the company and specifically mentioned what appealed to them about the role?
  • Is the application free from spelling typos and errors? This can be a challenge to spot if you’re receiving resumes from an agency, as they can often be formatted.
  • If they don’t have industry experience, does their work history make sense for them to transfer into this role? E.g. similar tasks, similar job description, transferable skills. Does their career path make sense? 
  • Have they job hopped around? Have they gone into management then moved back down, or moved into sales and then back to admin? 


2. Interview

Being objective in your interview style allows the candidate to give you a more transparent view of their abilities, unclouded by their industry experience or how they spoke on the phone.

  • Are you giving candidates the best chance of demonstrating their abilities or are you asking them to give answers you want to hear? Asking open-ended questions rather than leading questions allows the interviewee to answer unbiasedly. 

E.g. “Tell me about a time when you had to complete multiple tasks at once.” Rather than “So, do you use a to-do list and schedule your calendar to ensure you keep track of your time?” The answer is more likely going to be accurate and honest, rather than ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

  • Are you using behavioural interviewing techniques? A quick Google search shows that there are multiple articles citing strong validity between behavioural interviewing and predicting job performance.
  • Did the candidate ask specific questions about the role and company, appearing genuinely interested and motivated?


3. Psychometric Testing

Are you utilising evidence-based assessment methods like psychometric testing? 

There are many different tests that assess a candidates’ natural strengths and behaviours, giving you a clearer picture of whether or not they’ll be a good fit for the role.


4. Reference Checks

Reference checks aren’t the most valid form of assessment, but we can use them to confirm what we’ve observed from the rest of the hiring process.

  • Is the referee a direct manager or a colleague? 
  • Did they pause or stumble at any questions you asked? Did you probe enough on areas you were unsure about?
  • Is the referee recent or from 10 years ago? Have they provided their personal email and phone numbers or their work contact details?
  • Have you cross-checked this reference on social media or their company website to confirm they are who they say they are?


5. The In-Between

What we mean by this is the time in between formal interviews and assessments. When the mask is off and the candidate is relaxed. You can find out a lot from when people believe they aren’t being assessed or measured. 

  • Has the candidate been fast with their response, flexible with their availability and clear with their communication over email and phone?
  • Do they seem genuinely interested in the role? Do they have a positive attitude?
  • Have you given them the opportunity to provide feedback about how they’re feeling about the role? 
  • Have they reacted negatively toward participating in certain assessments or parts of the process?


Transform your business with the right hire

If you are currently hiring, it’s worth slowing down and asking some of these questions. At Inject, we work with small-medium business owners and understand that hiring a poor performer can destroy entire teams’ productivity and morale.

We also know and have seen firsthand how a high performer can transform a business.

We don’t leave your hiring to chance because we focus on the attitude, aptitude and behaviour of candidates, so you know exactly what you’re getting. We work with you to ensure your business has the right people, in the right roles, at the right time. 


If you think our approach could work for you, please contact us.


You may also be interested in our eBook – Building a High Performing Team on Purpose, for more insights. Chapter 5 is on talent management which you can read here.

Our clients are proud of the people they’ve hired