One of the biggest challenges in running a small business is finding the right members for your team. When interviewing employees, are you asking the right questions? Are your favorite applicants going to rise to the challenge of the real-life work? Here are a few elements to consider:

1. Works Well on a Team
Your employees need to be team players in order to be effective in your business. It is important that your employee can work independently, but it is equally as valuable to get someone who can easily work on a team. If you hire someone who a sole focus on themselves and their own ambition, you may find yourself struggling to get them to work toward the bigger picture for the company.

In your interview, test this by asking about specific instances where the candidate has worked on a team. Encourage them to elaborate on specific times when they thought they did well, and when they thought their approach could have been better. This will help you identify individuals who are familiar with and value team dynamics.

2. Comfortable with Customer Service
As a small business owner, you’re looking for someone who is responsible and has a clear view on customer service practices, and are great with follow through. Remember, your employees are likely one of the first contacts your customers have with your business:

“Most people don’t understand it’s not the product or service that gets that customer jumping up and down about how wonderful you and your business is, it’s the social experience they had with the person serving them” (Be Interesting, Our Businesses Need You).

In your interview, do some role playing. You be the customer, and present a challenging situation. Watch carefully as the candidate answers. Do they hesitate and search for the right answer, or are they ready and confident with a solution?

3. Willing To Learn
Employees in small businesses can be required to wear many hats from time to time. As a small business owner, it’s also more effective for your employees to grow and prepare for progressively more challenging roles within the company. When interviewing a candidate, look for individuals who demonstrate a history of growing professionally. Have they invested in classes to learn new skills? Do they frequently attend industry events or read books to increase their understanding of leadership? What are their professional development goals for the next year?

This will help you see the candidate as they want to be in the future, and what they are willing to do today to prepare themselves for that “dream job.”

4. Strong Work Ethic
In a small business, there is no room for slackers. When someone on the team isn’t pulling their weight, the system falls apart. In your interview, ask the candidate to talk about specific instances where they have gone above and beyond for an employer. Ask them what they would do if asked to perform a task that may be outside of their job description on occasion. Their responses and body language will be telling as you seek out a new employee who will help you grow your business.

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