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March 10, 2016
Business Management  |  3 min read

The Hiring Process: Can Your Applicant Do the Work? And Do They Want To?

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Jamillah Warner

When you want something—a prize, a position, an opportunity—the salesperson in most of us comes out. We start promoting ourselves, highlighting why we’re the perfect fit. We can get so caught up in the business of selling that we miss the clues that say, “Hey, this may be a good opportunity, but it's not for me.”

The same is true with some job applicants. They’ll fight for what they think they want. They’ll get the job. But then you might train them and in three weeks they'll realize that the job isn't what they thought they wanted. In fact, the shortest change of mind I have ever seen—at a non-profit for children I was working with at the time—is one day. This woman was perfect on paper and excellent in the interviews, but after the first day on the job she never came back, not even to get her paycheck.

Successfully managing a small business means finding the right employees and vetting them for their skills, hopes, and expectations. Here's two pointers on how to do that well.

Two people, two interviews

In the application process, there are two people interviewed: the company and the potential new team member. As the small business owner, you have found someone that you like. But you need to know, as early as possible, whether or not they like you back. To do this you can to put them on the floor, so to speak, and let them do the work or at least shadow someone in the position that they’re applying for. The goal is to give your applicant a true feel for the job. And if it’s not a fit for you or them, then either party can back out before spending any more resources on a dead end.

This hands-on opportunity gives you a chance to witness the candidate in action. It gives the candidate a chance to experience the environment. And it doesn't cost anything. Scott Kriscovich, president of the talent acquisition firm TrueBridge Resources, says, “You can train for skills,” but culture is a different story. Kriscovich says, “Culture match is equally important for the hire you make.” And putting your serious applicants in the job setting can be a time-saver in the long run.

Test Your Applicants

After that new hire at the non-profit ran away, we implemented the policy mentioned above. The cooks had to cook sample meals in our kitchen. The administrative applicants had to take a test requiring them to produce the kind of work that we needed on the job. The people working directly with the children had to produce a clean criminal-record check, attend one staff meeting, and shadow one employee working the same position they were applying for. It meant you couldn’t get hired in one hour, but you could in three days. It meant more effort on the front end and less turnover on the back end. It meant amicably parting ways with most candidates and making almost-perfect fits with the rest.

The hardest part of this process for the small business owner is just deciding to do it in the first place. Once you create a simple structure for putting your job applicants on the floor, it becomes much easier to implement. Being real with your employees is just as important as being real with your customers. 

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