How to Grow your Business by Building your Team (Part Three)

As your online business evolves, the time comes when you need to delegate some of your tasks to someone else. Because I am currently part-timing as a senior advisor for a company hiring top-level experts for temporary tasks (called interim management), I have ample experience in interviewing people. In our mini-series of blog posts, Doug articulated the business rationale of team building, and now I will offer you a bit of insight into the hiring process itself.

The process begins with your preparations: you should get acquainted with documents submitted by candidates. Start by checking the facts in the curriculum vitae or resumés. If something strikes you as illogical or missing, take a note for yourself. For example, if there is an odd loophole, a few years in between occupations, it is noteworthy, and you may want to check later with the candidate when you meet them in person.

The first question you may want to ask during the personal interview (or online interview, given the pandemic) is about the candidate’s motivation. Why did he or she decide to change jobs; was there anything wrong with his or her previous one; and what is it that he or she expects from the new one.

Studies show that people mostly resign because of interpersonal relationship issues. In other words, they have problems with their supervisors (people they report to, who are bosses rather than leaders or managers). It seldom happens that someone quits a job because they are unhappy about the work to be done or the package (meaning their salaries and all other benefits like bonuses, a company car, stock options, etc.) So, finding out about the candidates’ motivation will let you see if in the past they were having good reasons to feel unhappy in their previous occupation and their resignation was a smart move.

A second question might be, as you are looking at the hard copy of the CV or Resumé in front of you, what the candidate’s main accountabilities were in their previous jobs. By asking this question you will get the full picture of their field of expertise and experience.

Why is it helpful? Because you will know what to expect from the person and where their professional strengths are. It means that if you want to delegate a task to them that is different from their earlier professional expertise, they will need to learn it first. That may be fine, but you should remember that any training takes time and costs money. If the new team member brings the necessary expertise and skill set with them, your costs will be less.

The third question may be about their main achievements, something that makes them proud. Usually, people are happy to talk about these, so if your candidate behaves awkwardly, take a mental note of that. However, if the candidate is showing excessive pride and starts each sentence with an “I”, be careful. It may be worse than bragging; it may be an alerting signal showing you that he or she is not a team player and vindicates all successes to themselves.

Of course, you may ask any more questions, but if you carefully studied the CV or Resumé before the interview and use your notes purposefully, by now you should have a fairly accurate picture of the candidate.

But that is not enough. You need to figure out the candidate’s personality.

Try to engage in a colloquial discussion with them; see if he or she is at ease talking to you (a stranger), try to grasp if the candidate has strong self-confidence and if their metacommunication (body language) reveals something that they try to hide from you. Even if you are not a trained communication person, you can guess what to watch: eye contact, hand movements, tenure, tone of voice, etc.

If possible, never ask any question that the candidate may take as too personal. Respect their right to intimacy and privacy, as you are not looking for new friends but colleagues whom you want to integrate into your team. Even if the interviewee will be your second team member (working with you), this will be a crucial step in developing your online business, so pay close attention, don’t miss out on any detail.

Professional hiring agencies draw the profile of candidates and will present to their customers (the companies that want to hire people) what kind of attitude and behavior can be expected from the candidates. Being an online entrepreneur with limited resources, you probably won’t have the luxury of working with a hiring agency or a headhunter. That is okay. Common sense will tell you how to “read” your candidates and you will be able to decide if they will be a good professional fit in your team.

At the end of the interview offer the candidate to ask any question about your business. Be honest and open-minded. If they have no question at all, that is not a good sign…

Finally, if you believe you learned about the candidate what you wanted to know before making your choice, thank them for their time and then say goodbye. Do promise to give them feedback, whether it is positive or negative, and always keep your promise.

If you have issues with your hiring process, let me know; I am always available and it will be my pleasure to help. Just leave me a comment.

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