In my past two columns, I wrote about how to attract and interview top performers. In this column, we’ll look at welcoming the new employee to your team.
You’ve concluded the interviews and now it’s time to check out the promising prospects. While lies and exaggerations on resumes are increasingly common, it has become easier than ever for an employer to discover the truth, either by hiring a specific outside firm to check the candidate’s background and confirm information, or by doing some legwork. A visit to Google or other Internet search sites can yield a wealth of facts on an individual in minutes. Plus, you can use various specialized tests to generate still other information.
It’s critical to check on an applicant’s references before offering a job. This can be a bit tricky because of the laws that only allow minimal information to be conveyed about a former employee.
Start by getting the candidate’s permission to contact his previous employer. You can fax, call or send a letter requesting information. I like the telephone call best. First, you want to verify the basic information – employment dates, job title, compensation and work performed. Next, ask specific questions about his/her attitude and level of performance. Finally, ask if they would rehire this employee, listen to the answer and ask for an explanation.
If you can get names of former supervisors or co-workers, check references with these folks as well. It has become fairly common to do criminal checks on potential employees – especially since technology has made this easier and less expensive to do. You might also do credit checks and personality checks. I know several companies that utilize personality testing on all sales and management candidates. One test you might check out is at www.DISCPROFILE.com. It’s done online and you get results in minutes.
As a final check, you might develop job simulations where you ask the candidate to perform tasks in actual work situations, i.e. a candidate for a design/sales position might do a design on your CAD system, or do some actual selling role playing, qualifying a prospect, for instance, or selling features and benefits of products.
The Final Decision
The candidate’s experience, qualifications, how the references check out, the salary requirements, the results of the personality testing and notes from those who interviewed the candidate will all weigh into the final decision. You should have a strong sense that this is the person for you. Making the right decision the first time will save you both time and money.
Once you’ve narrowed down your decision to one person, it’s time to make the offer and welcome the new person to your team.
Put your offer in writing. This shouldn’t be a contract, but simply a letter of understanding. In this, you will spell out issues of salary, commissions, bonuses, benefits, review time frames and all other perks and commitments. By having all of the pertinent information in writing, you will eliminate any misunderstandings. Both you and the candidate should sign off on this.
In “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” Harvey B. MacKay states, “As an acid test of hiring, ask yourself how you would feel having this candidate working for your competition instead of you.”
As small business owners, you may feel you can’t compete with the large companies when trying to hire new people. I personally believe small companies offer a number of attractive benefits. These include:
- The opportunity to be more “hands on.”
- The need to wear multiple hats, which results in wider experiences and enhanced skills.
- The chance to be part of a “family” culture/environment.
- More chances for recognition.
- The opportunity to be a “big fish in a small pond” – leading to quicker promotions and more money.
- A stronger sense of ownership.
- Positions that better utilize an employee’s aptitude/interests.
- More flexibility in schedules.
- A stronger sense of ownership.