How SMEs can Interview and Hire like Pros

How SMEs can Interview and Hire like Pros

How SMEs can Interview and Hire like Pros

I like to talk positively so I’d like to explain my thoughts on how to interview to hire, not how to interview to decline. Yes you need to dig deep when there are issues to probe, but this post is not about that. This post concentrates on the fact that at each interview stage, your candidate (who could be the greatest hire you ever make and you just don’t know it) is evaluating you and the company. So here goes, a few tips and thoughts on interviewing:

Run a phone screen first

An important part of the evaluation process for both parties, this helps to save time, sets the tone for future communications and is an easy way to kick things off. At the end of the day you have to work with this person so phone comms is vital.

Always communicate the process

It is vital to let the candidates know what is happening next and what to expect. You have to put yourself in the poor candidate’s shoes, they had a great phone chat, you said “great we will get back to you in a week”, then a week later the person is still waiting for that call…..

Keep interviews informal

My personal preference for SME’s, however it’s up to individual companies, I just advise to stay within your overall company culture. If you have a really relaxed culture, wear t-shirts and work flexi hours – then don’t hold a 3 hour 5 person panel interview in a room with no windows!

Have a max of 2-3 interviews in total

Again this is a preference of mine, as once you start the hiring process you have started a ticking time bomb! You only have a set amount of time to actually make the hire otherwise candidate’s motivations and excitement levels will subside. Be creative in how these interviews take place. A few suggestions:

-Coffee with the boss

-Coffee with the other boss

-Meet members of the advisory board

-Peer review

-Office tour

-Meet the incumbent

Always communicate the process

Choose a preferred candidate

Trust your gut! There are plenty of testing tools and other ways to compare candidates, but for all the technical information out there, my advice is always to run with your gut. You have to like the person, feel good about the hire as that will rub off on them and result in a motivated employee.

Always communicate the process

Run reference checks

Some in the recruitment world feel this process is becoming outdated and time consuming as candidates will never put up a bad referee. I disagree. Yes, check that they turn up on time etc, but the key to referencing is starting to formulate ideas on how to manage your new staff member.

Verbally negotiate the salary

All of a sudden the balance of power has taken a major shift to the candidate. If you have completed all the previous steps well, keeping the candidate informed and developed an honest open dialogue, then this part will be a breeze. But do agree terms verbally, please don’t just present a contract having never discussed anything…

Physically talk them through the contract

I think this is a really important part of the process in which questions can be answered and reasons can be talked through. Ideally at the end of this the candidate will be 99% happy and head home and sign the contract. Never make them sign it there and then, illegal and wrong.

Set timeframes

Agree on when they will come back to you. Otherwise you then become the poor person sitting around waiting for that phone call that you never know when it will come. My how the tables have turned!

Cover off giving notice to previous employer

Something generally covered by 3rd part recruitment consultants, but not often by employer’s themselves. Counter offers are real and are happening more and more in this buoyant market. Just ask them when they will hand in their notice, how they will do it, what reaction is expected and how the candidate will react to that reaction.

Hopefully by this point they have already copied your tendency to always communicate the process and they will keep in touch throughout their notice period for organising start dates, times etc.

This is just a short version of the interviewing and hiring process – obviously tailored differently for different employers. But I hope it helps and feel free to comment below with other tips on interviewing and hiring from your own experiences.




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Mike Westbury

Mike owns the business and delivers innovative recruitment campaigns to his clients. He enjoys working in a niche environment where each client's needs can be tailored to. Mike comes from an extensive recruitment and solution selling background, having previously worked for a large global consultancy and a number of New Zealand owned firms. Outside of work, he can be found playing with his two young kids or getting out for a surf or a sail when time allows!

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