For a lot of solopreneurs like myself, one of the hardest decisions you make is when and how to hire your first employee. From an economic perspective, the right time is when you either can’t outsource the work you need done or the cost of outsourcing now exceeds the cost of hiring.
If your workload is temporary, you may want to consider an intern before biting the bullet of full employment. Once you’ve made the decision, one of the most important considerations is making sure it’s the right fit for what you need. The biggest mistake most hiring managers make is looking at what an applicant has done (experience, education, etc) and not looking hard enough at what you will ask them to do going forward. Here are a few things you may want to consider:
1) Make sure you have prepared a comprehensive job description that includes all of the responsibilities you will expect of the position. Since you will initially only have the two of you, it would be a good idea to outline what tasks you will continue to assume so there is no confusion down the road.
2) Make a list of your “must have” qualities and do not deviate from the list. For example, if the job includes inside or outside sales, excellent communication skills should be a “must have”.
3) Once you have built your job description and “must have” list, it should make going through resumes much easier and much faster. Scrub your list to your top three to five candidates and invite them in for a face-to-face interview.
4) Be prepared with questions that will determine their skill level and fit. Describe what is expected and ask for examples of how they have accomplished that task in the past.
5) If you’re going to allow the person to telecommute, make sure you have the systems and technology necessary to insure productivity and communication.
6) Check references. This is a much overlooked step in the hiring process. People assume that all the references will be great so why bother. But if you ask the right questions, it can really help you determine if the person is the right fit. Don’t ask broad questions like “ how were they to work with?” Ask, “ can you tell me about a time they did xxxx?”
7) Don’t forget to set up your payroll tax deductions. The IRS provides a great guide to everything you need to do to set up your employee.
The reality is that whether you’re hiring your first employee or your 50th, these are great steps to help you find a good fit. Now don’t forget that now you’re not just an entrepreneur now, you’re a manager, so don’t take the responsibility lightly. You may find you like the job even better.