You face all kinds of obstacles month-to-month and year-to-year running your business. You’ve managed the product and service thing, the sales thing, and the leadership thing but the talent acquisition thing… not so much.

Hiring is not taught in business school nor is it generally thought of as a leadership function. The most insidious problem for small business hiring is that leaders think that perhaps one day they’ll grow up and be able to institute big company practices; until then they make it up as they go. They are living in the story that hiring is a crapshoot, talent is too scarce, or growth is just hard so they buck up and live (suffer) with the disfunction.

The main problems you face every time hiring comes up is that you don’t know how to:

  • describe your culture in enough detail to spot a match in a candidate
  • get candidates to reveal their true selves during the interview process
  • be objective about candidates even when they do reveal their true selves

In reality, the majority of small businesses aren’t limited to just one of these problems, they amazingly function having some combination of two or more of them.

What can you do?

First, start by clearly defining your culture. Don’t do this by yourself. Do this with others. Bring together a core group of people (leadership, key employees, people who know you well) and put your culture into language.

  • What you care about drives your actions. So from a high level, what would all those people say your organization cares about? What values are driving your actions?
  • How you do the work sets the tone for good outcome and teamwork. So from a high level, what would all those people say describes the quality of the interactions within the team?

The combination of these two sets of things IS your culture!

Next, make up a set process that is long enough to see consistent behavior from candidates. A process that has at least four steps will give candidates an opportunity to show how much of a cultural match, how skillful and trustworthy they can be… or not. Throughout the process:

    • Quickly get candidates out that don’t fit in the early steps. Spend more time with those that do fit in the later steps.
    • Don’t wing the candidate interactions. Be prepared with interview scripts and small assignments they can accomplish during or between steps.
    • Watch for behavior and listen to what they say.

This candidate obstacle course lets the candidates show you just how well they fit your company.

Lastly, get your feelings about a candidate out of the middle. Be clear how candidates fit with what you want and need.

    • Recognize your biases (good and bad) and be diligent in not being swayed by them.
    • Choose candidates in or out of the process based on a candidate’s alignment with your culture and observable proof that they have the skills and traits you want. If you can’t answer why you like or don’t like a candidate in detailed terms, you have not done the right work.

Best Practices

Instituting best practices for hiring is the perfect complement to all those other sets of business practices you’ve been working on: marketing, selling, product development, service implementation, leading, etc. Hiring is a fundamental competency you need.

Here’s A Gift

Conspiring for success with others is the secret: your success, your hiring team members’ success, the candidates’ success. Don’t leave people out of the hiring process. Involve as many as you can that know you, are invested in your success, and can benefit from being involved in helping you choose your employees.

You don’t need to be perfect at hiring right now, you just need to keep stepping it up. You’ll eventually know that hiring isn’t a crapshoot, talent isn’t too scarce, and you don’t need to suffer.


Miche Rayment is the Founder and CEO for The Hire Effect™. The Hire Effect’s clients learn about hiring and don’t complicate business success by hiring the wrong people.