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Helpful Hiring Hints

Monday, August 11, 2014


by Kelly Weaver, Small Business Development Center Regional Director

If you ask nearly any business owner, they will tell you that staffing is one of their biggest headaches.  Hiring the right person is always a challenge so here’s some ideas to help you avoid the pitfalls. 

First and foremost, an employer must have appropriate expectations.  Hiring a staff person is a big financial commitment, so many small business owners put it off until they absolutely can’t operate without some extra help.  They may then rush through the process and expect the new hire to step in a take over areas that the owner doesn’t want or have time to deal with.  This is especially true of businesses hiring their first employee.  Hiring a staff person will not solve all your struggles; and they will require ongoing attention.


Before opening the position, take the time to think about the key elements of the job you want filled.  Understand what duties the person will be responsible for, who they will answer to, what equipment they will use, what skills or education are needed.  Don’t forget to include the physical requirements of the essential job functions (ability to drive, lift certain number of pounds, etc.).  Create a job description and draft an interesting and informative job listing. 

Prepare for the interview by making a list of questions you want answered.  You want to make the interview conversational, so just use the list as a reference so you don’t forget an important topic.  During the interview, asked open-ended and followup questions to get more in-depth answers that will shed light on their abilities.  Know which questions cannot be asked in an interview as well.  Give the candidates time to ask questions and evaluate how prepared they were for the interview and how much they know about your company.  Be sure to take notes both during and after the interview for review later.

Create an orientation plan for new hires. Make sure you have the necessary space, equipment, and materials they will need.  You want them to have a sense of belonging from day one.  Dedicate the necessary time on the first day to explain your company vision, show them around the business, introduce them to other employees or key people, explain company policies and of course complete the necessary employment paperwork.  Try to have some specific tasks for them to complete the first day.  Provide all necessary training the employee will need to be successful in their job.  Even experienced hires need expectations and at times, direction. Never assume that the new hire knows all the aspects of their new job.  This process may extend long past the first day, depending on the complexities of the job.

As an owner, there are certain duties you must retain.  If an employee is not performing well it is your job to fix the problem through supervision, training or even replacing the employee.  If your product or service is not being provided adequately to your customers, it ultimately comes back to you and affects the potential success of your business.   If you ignore poor performance in one employee, you can be sure other employees will be taking notice.  Always be engaged with how your employees are performing their jobs.   Address issues head on with honesty, humility, and an eye toward improvement.            

Kelly Weaver is the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center in Aberdeen which offers free, confidential business consulting to start up and existing businesses.  She can be reached at (605) 626-2565 or  The Center is hosted by GROW South Dakota.

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A Half-Century of Serving South Dakotans

For more than half a century, the three nonprofit organizations comprising GROW South Dakota have fulfilled a vision of “GROWing sustainable communities through housing, community and economic development.” In 1966 the Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program (NESDCAP) was established as a Community Action Agency in the War on Poverty and has served thousands in 17 counties with emergency services as well as various housing programs.

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