Hiring Practices for Small Firms

By Richard Hua

In most corporate settings, it is crucial for recruiters to locate the best talent available in the recruiting pools in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Keeping accurate job descriptions and having certain requirements based on the employer’s needs are just a few ways larger companies are able to find ideal candidates for vacant positions.

Smaller teams or boutique firms often take their own, personalized approaches when identifying talented individuals to bring on board. As the leader of a company or team with fewer than ten employees, it is essential to know whether I have the right people “on the bus,” so to speak, or not. Because of this, I am actively involved in the hiring and training processes for potential employee candidates. While I am constantly refining the process, below are some of the best practices that I have identified when hiring new employees:

Recruiting

I have one of my more experienced employees focused on human resources take care of posting to recruitment forums or resource sites. The target audience for the postings is usually the college student population in the surrounding Bay Area, so I can train from the ground up. I provide criteria I am searching for and receive consistent updates about any folks who express interest in an opening role at the company. I tend to keep job descriptions general – I'll explain why momentarily.

Interviewing

When an applicant comes into the office for an interview, I like to have the team member who is in charge of recruiting ask some standard interview questions about self-awareness, values and beliefs, including: “What are some of your strengths?” “Why should I hire you over other candidates?” etc. I feel that it is important to have multiple people get a feel for a potential candidate’s personality and their level of interest in the company.

After my employee gets through the standard interview questions, I like to go in with the applicant’s resume and the information. Some of the main goals I keep in mind when interviewing the applicant are having them explain their experiences listed on the resume more in depth to understand them as an individual and their decision-making process, getting an understanding of what the applicant knows about the company values and operations, and determining how their personality and traits would fit in with the rest of the staff.

By having applicants explain their prior work experience, I get a better idea of how they might fit into the grand scheme of things and what we do as a company. This is why I prefer to keep the job description general to begin with. I do not want to jump ahead and assign someone a position off the bat if I know that they are better equipped for another one within our company.

Asking individuals about what they know of the company’s values and day-to-day operations is my way of gauging the level of interest someone has in working here. If they have done their homework and checked out our website or any reviews or feedback, I know they went that extra mile to understand what we do as a company and have a vested interest in working with the team.

Making sure that an applicant fits in with the rest of my staff is also essential. They will be spending a majority of their time with the same people and everyone is interdependent with each other. When working with a smaller team, it is important for each member to have the soft and hard skills necessary to work within a group – the ability to hold themselves and others accountable, effective and efficient communication skills, and flexibility to be dynamic if a situation does not go according to plan, as most situations won't.

Lastly, if I feel the applicant would be a strong addition to the team, I am transparent with them about where I see them in relation to the long-term company goals. This way, I give the applicant something tangible to work toward in the months after being hired, especially because I am hiring for long-term growth.

Trial Period

When I hire someone, I like to have them complete a “trial period” for a number of months after being hired. If I feel that they are a good fit before the months have passed, I reduce the time frame and they officially become a part of the staff. This trial period allows me to train them slowly but thoroughly and see if what they say matches their execution. I start off by having them understand limited administration skills, having them practice with the internal systems that we use during day-to-day operations, and testing out soft skills among the team. From there, I give them tasks with increasingly higher levels of responsibility until they are ready to be ramped up fully.

One of the great parts about hiring is the fact that it does not have to fit a traditional mold, especially in smaller companies. It is about pivoting your focus to not only find enthusiastic talent, but also ensure that you are maxing out the potential they can have on the company and the staff around them.

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Richard Hua is the founder & CEO at Roundleaf, a boutique firm committed to customer success with progress towards financial perfection.

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