Taking on a new staff member can be a big decision for an SME. A productive new employee can bring many wins to a small business – experience, contacts and energy for a start. However, hiring another employee can also be an expensive process – wages, national insurance and other costs will need to be borne by the hiring company, so making the right choice from potential candidates is rather important.
Here are some tips on interviewing potential job candidates for your SME to make sure you shortlist the right ones for the role:
- Be specific with your job spec. To get the right candidates to apply, you should make sure the description of the role is detailed and accurate. The job spec should include key skills and knowledge that the new employee must have, and identify any software or hardware they should be familiar with. Most SME’s don’t have an official training program and may not have the spare funds to send staff on expensive courses. Following on, when you receive CVs and applications, do more than give them a cursory glance – reading them thoroughly will not take long and will help you to better pick the right candidates for interview.
- Check references and credentials. Lets face it, most people tell the odd porkie on their CV. However, lying about key references, qualifications and credentials is a step too far. Make it clear in your job spec that all references will be checked, and make sure you actually do it for any candidate you have shortlisted. In particular, professional references should be followed up on – chase down their old boss (assuming that was one of their references) and ask them key questions on the candidates ability, composure and general fit within the workplace.
- Ask probing questions related to the role. Asking potent questions directly related to the role the new hire will fill is the best way of gauging their suitability. This can involve questions that can display their current knowledge, understanding and skills and will quickly help you identify candidates who just aren’t up to scratch knowledge wise.
- Tap into their experiences. Experience is a wonderful thing to bring into your SME. A worker who has direct experience in the role you need to fill, and additional expertise within the industry can quickly become a great asset. A new employee who may have been trained by and worked for a much larger competitor could bring great new ideas and process improvements to your SME.
- Set a test. For certain types of roles where the application of a specific skill is required, you may want to set a quick test to see if the candidate really can do it as well as they claim.
- Check the internet. Tap the candidates name into Google and see what results come back. Sinister results or weird posts/tweets should forewarn you about potential problems a candidate might bring. LinkedIn can also be a good place to snoop on a potential worker, and the people within their professional circles.
While interviewing candidates for a new role might seem a little time consuming and irksome, it’s one of those things within business that’s worth getting right – otherwise, you could end up with a lemon who ends up costing your SME more money than they help bring in.