Best Hiring Practices for Small Businesses

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Hiring is one of the most important things an entrepreneur will do to grow his/her company. For a small business, each new hire has a tremendous impact by influencing the company's culture.

Combining the old fashioned way of hiring with some “Google” inspired approaches, we set out here to describe our own hiring practices and provide some tips that maximize your chances of landing a superstar. Omar Ting, our Chief Marketing Officer, and Lucie Colomb, our Vice President of Operations, collaborate on the following article to give you a manager’s and a new employee’s perspective.

Lucie Colomb and Omar Ting collaborate to share some tips on LA Local SEO's hiring strategy.

Create a detailed profile of the employee that you are looking for.

If you are not sure of what profile/skills your are looking for in a candidate you won’t find it. It’s like in a relationship, you don’t want to waste your time and be disappointed! If you can start visualizing exactly who you want to fill the position, it will speed up the interview process.

Your ad must contain all the details about the job duties, the company, and the ideal candidate.

Also ask for something specific: a cover letter, an article, or a short bio. This forces the candidate to create something specific for your company instead of copying and pasting their resume.

You will still get a lot of copy/paste responses-- but the candidates that personalize their application will set themselves apart from the crowd. We at LA Local SEO value passion and hustle-- so those hustlers that spend the time to personalize their cover letters get an extra boost for consideration.

Make the candidate take a personality profile before coming in.

Your candidate is coming for an interview. When emailing them the time and location, ask them to take a personality test. We prefer the MBTI, “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.” It’s one of the most widely used systems. It’s easy to grasp and very useful in practice. There are many free MBTI tests floating around the internet.

We understand that it can be intimidating because people usually think that if they are not the right personality then they won’t get the job.

That’s not why we administer the personality test.

We believe in putting people in the best position so they can succeed for the long term. A personality test will help us design the proper work environment for a new employee and aide in the team building process. Being a startup, every employee here is expected to wear multiple hats. If you are a creative person, we’re not going to force you to multitask.

When our candidates first arrive, we let them read their personality profile description and ask them how much of it is accurate and what they would change or add to it. This is a great way to break the ice and start the interview.

How did this set LA Local SEO apart from other employers?

"LA Local SEO set its interview process very differently than other employers. At first, like other companies, I was asked questions about myself, how I work, and my past experiences. After that I was able to ask questions, give my point of view, and have a friendly exchange with my future employer. Not only did I feel that I was on the same level as him, but he also gave me all the details that I needed to know about the job. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. Most of the interviews, if you get hired, you don’t even know exactly what you are going to be doing!” --Lucie Colomb 

Don’t be predictable in your hiring questions.

"What are your Strengths and Weaknesses?"

"Tell me about yourself."

We have all heard those questions during an interview right?

Do the answers really indicate something for you? Not much!

It is human nature to lie and a candidate would never reveal their real deficiencies!

However, you can always ask some random question that will give you an idea of how the candidate resonates.

"How much is 12 times 24?"

See if this does 10 x 24 = 240 + (2x24)= 288!

What we're really after is how the person handles a stressful situation.

Or analyze the process of answering this question:

"If the zombie apocalypse were about to happen tonight, how would you prepare yourself?"

If you are looking for a creative candidate, someone organized, or someone with good problem solving skills, the answer to those questions will give you more details about your candidate than anything else.

You can also go with:

“What song best describes your work ethic?”

“What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?”

Be close to the potential recruit.

You might be going to work with this person everyday. They give you a lot of information about themselves but you should be able to let them know who you are as well.

There are different ways to accomplish that: have a talk about your hobbies, or do the interview in a more casual setting like a coffee shop or even give them your resume! Why not?

You want to make your company desirable to get the best candidates, so don’t hesitate to brag about it.

Share your (interviewer's) resume with the candidate before the interview begins.

"I'm probably not the first person to do this, but I decided to offer up my resume to candidates for a couple reasons. Firstly, there were a lot of things that bothered me about the "standard" way of interviewing, when I was going through it as an interviewee myself: it feels very cold and intimidating. Sometimes it seemed like the interviewer had not even seen my resume until I first sat down in front of him. Then they ask me if I brought one with me, which just makes my potential employer look unprepared.

I do my due diligence first. I read the cover letter, resume, make notes and follow up questions. When the candidate first sits down, he/she can see that I've spent time reviewing it because I've marked it up with different colored pens and highlighters.

I want to make them FEEL very important every step of the way. We want to keep in mind that we are competing for their talent.

Secondly, I wanted to add a "human" touch to our process. I ditched everything I read online when googling "how to conduct an interview." (Lol)

I thought to myself-- "how does it make me feel when I get bombarded with a bunch of personal questions from a perfect stranger?" It's kind of hard to open up fully to a stranger that you don't know very well.

So I figured that if I'm going to grill this person about her life, what she's done, why she thinks she's the best for this position, etc., the very least I could do was tell her a little bit about myself, how I came to choose the company, and why I personally believe in the company's future. And maybe that might break the ice enough so that we can have a real conversation.

Additionally, I would potentially be this person's direct manager. I think it's pretty important that we get along. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to brag about my accomplishments and get the recruit excited about working with me (jk)" --Omar Ting

What effect did sharing the resume have on you?

"You learn a lot from someone’s resume. When I saw your [interviewer's] resume, I was able to relate to you by seeing that we share common work experiences and hobbies. And just to be able to know who you are talking to makes the candidates more comfortable and more open to share information about themselves." --Lucie Colomb 

Now that we've shared some of our tips, let's take a look at how the hiring process is normally conducted and how to improve it.

How it’s Usually Done

The boss assigns the “hiring task” to an employee, usually an intern or someone low on the totem pole.

How it should be Done

The boss puts his best person, best writer, on the task of hiring. Instead of having your assistant or intern write the ad, you need to write it yourself or have the best writer in the house write your job ad.

The first day you hire your employee is the first day you contact him/her.

That means, the new hire technically starts “working” for you the day he/she sees your job ad. They already start forming ideas and opinions about the company. The way you respond to their initial resume & cover letter set the tone for what they can expect if and when they start working.

Keeping that in mind, it makes sense to have your best copywriter create the job wanted ad.

And, at every stage of the interviewing process, it's imperative to be aware that this person may eventually join the team.

Interviewing the potential candidate is only 50% of the hiring process.

The other half is the Candidate “interviewing” the Employer

Your strongest candidates will have options, other job offers.

This means that you need to “sell” the company and the position in a way that makes it more attractive than another company offering the same salary for the same position.

If candidate is looking at Company A and Company B-- both offering the same salary, which one is she to choose?

The interview process is actually a “sales process,” whereby we are selling the company to the candidate.

Sure, we can say that a big part of this process is filtering out the qualified candidates from the unqualified ones; beyond that though, we are presenting our company in the best light to the qualified group.

Our process works for us, but it may or may not fit your business or industry 100%. We hope our tips and insights can help break you out of your "do it the standard way" shell. Sometimes taking a leap of faith with an unproven process can provide spectacular results!

Happy hiring! (We still are...)

Send us your resume's!!!


OmarOctober 14 2015, 05:13 PM Nice first post Lucie! looking forward to many more from you :D

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