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Interviewing and hiring tips for small- and medium-sized businesses

Business, Technology, Internet and network concept. Young busineHere’s an unexpected problem that results from living in Utah: we have a lot of qualified people. But we also have a lot of job openings. For small and medium-sized businesses in Utah recruiting and retention represent major headaches. So, what’s a hiring manager to do? We spend a lot of time discussing business banking, SBA loans, and more – but let’s take a moment today to focus on something that it’s a little closer to home for executives and business managers: hiring and recruiting.

Start with the Standard Job Interview

The typical job interview has been the same for a long, long time. Perhaps it’s time to inject something new into the process and change it to something more than a social call with some very predictable choreography. What does it usually look like? Imagine a bland conference room, a wrinkle-free résumé, and a very standard list of questions like:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Name one of your proudest successes and/or worst failures?

In between these all-too-common questions, there might be some banal small talk. Perhaps the candidate and interviewer have something in common they could discuss. No major red flags are raised, the candidate seems like they might be a good fit and their references seem solid. Might as well make the offer and cross your fingers, right? Wrong.

Next thing you know it’s a month later and the new hire is missing deadlines and not happy with their work. Is this where you start to ask yourself, was that hire a mistake?

Top Tips to Change the Hiring Paradigm

You must understand that Utah is a high-growth state. From the Silicon Slopes to Salt Lake City and beyond, competition for qualified talent is everywhere. That’s why companies must get creative in how they approach hiring. You can’t rely on the same old hiring practices. There are a lot of commonplace questions out there. Why ask the same old questions when you know they are likely to already be prepared for them? Instead, consider fresh, creative questions like:

  • What is your natural strength?
  • What kind of animal would you be and why?
  • What qualities of your parents do you like the most?

Do these seem like strange questions? In some ways they are, but in others, they aren’t. For instance, if a candidate goes for a sales position, maybe the interviewer wants to know that they feel like a lion – aggressive, ready to go on the attack. Will they do what it takes to get that sale? And asking a person about their natural strength reveals talent and skill. It isn’t always about education or work experience.

You also want to be challenging. Remember who is the interviewer and who is the candidate. Don’t back off from challenging questions or scenarios that will give you a better sense of their true selves. Far too often people sleepwalk through an interview simply because they know they won’t be challenged. If you want this individual to work for you, it’s important to ensure they can handle the pressure.

Finally, consider allowing your current employees to help in the hiring process. After all, they are the ones who will likely have to work in close quarters with this new individual. Some companies have an employee come in and ask questions related to the job. As the current employee and candidate talk, you can glean whether there is any professional chemistry there or not.

Consider Providing Candidate Tours

The best way to properly size up a candidate is not from behind your desk. You can get a better sense of an individual when you take them on a walk through your facility. Stay in the building and show the candidate around your company. You may even want to introduce them to a few of your colleagues. As you do, pay attention to the following:

  • Does the person seem genuinely interested as you take them around?
  • Do they treat everyone the same regardless of title?
  • Do they seem eager or subdued?
  • Are they asking questions about what everyone does and how the organization works?

For many companies, a tour is a key test for a candidate. Why? Because it allows them to get a good sense of whether they will fit in with the organization. When you stop and introduce them to people, do they offer a handshake? Do you detect curiosity or interest on their part?

The fact is, to find the right people for your Utah business, you must be able to cut through the noise. How do you do that? By getting creative and challenging your candidates to rise to the occasion of your interview. Only then will you find that a month down the road you aren’t questioning whether you made a hiring mistake!