How to hire effectively as a small business

In this piece, David Grimes reveals his secrets to managing the recruitment process and how small company owners can make hiring easier for themselves.

Finding a new employee who fits into your company culture straight away is far from easy. It’s an even harder task for smaller business owners to know how to hire – you’re likely to only have a few members of staff working for you and will often be operating on a limited budget. Recruiting is certainly an investment, so you want to be sure that anyone who does come on board is someone you believe can have a positive impact on business growth.

Away from money matters, one of the major recruitment challenges for employers with smaller teams is the risk of upsetting the apple cart. If your employees are already a close-knit bunch, there’s every chance that a new face could disrupt their flow. It therefore pays to hire the right person, first time – not just from a financial perspective, but for the sake of a positive workplace atmosphere too.

As I’ve grown my businesses and taken on new members of staff, there are a few lessons I’ve picked up along the way about the recruitment process. I’ve shared these below and hope they will be useful for any small business owner unsure about how best to approach it.

Setting expectations and goals

One way to ensure that you’re attracting the right type of talent to the business is by having a clearly determined recruitment strategy before you advertise the vacancy.

Have an idea in mind about the type of person you are looking to recruit and the goals they will need to achieve in their role. Particularly in smaller teams, the new hire might have to take on multiple responsibilities, and there may be periods where things get more stressful with fewer people around to help. Make this clear from the start – candidate expectations will be managed and there will be less chance of a surprise for the new hire once they’ve already sat down at their desk.

Describe your company culture and the values that you expect the candidate to uphold should they get offered the job. Defining these before you start hiring will help a potential candidate to work out where they might fit into the business and give them a clearer idea about the type of environment they are becoming a part of.

The interview process

It might sound basic, but many employers still underestimate the value of a good old-fashioned interview. If it’s a viable option, and the candidate doesn’t have too far to travel, make your first meeting a face-to-face one. You’ll get a much better feel for a candidate’s personality and character than you would if speaking via phone or on Skype. If not feasible in the first instance, you could always set up a couple of second round interviews before making a final decision.

During the interview itself, have a list of key questions in your head – these will help to guide your own thinking about the applicant. Some examples that I typically use are:

  • Is the candidate demonstrating a passion to want to come into my business and work hard?
  • Could I see them integrating well into the current workplace environment, or would they need extra support?
  • As an employer, will I be able to meet their expectations and goals?

Employee benefits packages

Candidates don’t always look at salary; they also look at the perks that might come with their new role. So, don’t expect a basic description on an online job site to necessarily grab their attention. You need to demonstrate that your company is a vibrant and fast-growing place that’s worth joining. Consider incentives that you could be offering to encourage more candidates to apply and make your job stand out amongst the hundreds of others out there.

If your budget is tight, then this might mean offering a good benefits package with alternative perks, such as extra holidays or childcare vouchers. Or, even providing a company lunch out every once in a while. These all show that they will be a valued part of the team and that their hard work won’t go unnoticed.

Offering support

You’ve found the perfect candidate, you’ve set a start date for their contract and now it’s just a case of getting them up to speed with what they need to do. We all know how daunting it can be starting in a new role and working in a completely different environment, so businesses should make sure they are onboarding new hires properly.

Consider whether you are providing them with all the right tools to do their job. This might be as simple as setting them up at their own desk and providing them with a computer to work on, or offering mentorship as they get to grips with everything. However you choose to provide support, making your new employee feel comfortable and ready to achieve is the end goal.

People are the lifeblood of any organisation, no matter how big or small, so hiring well is the first step to building the company you want. Invest some time and energy into the recruitment process early on and it will ultimately pay dividends in the future.

David Grimes is founder of My Parcel Delivery

Further reading on hiring

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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