Conducting Great Interviews as a Small Business Owner | NPI Franc


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Conducting Great Interviews as a Small Business Owner

 June 27, 2023 |  Business Tips, Franchise |  Hiring, small business, entrepreneur

By Kimberly Stevens, NPI, Inc.'s Marketing & Business Coach

Starting a business is a remarkable accomplishment in itself, but making that first hire might be the most important part of a small business’s track for growth. The amount of time and effort that goes into a brand new hire is considerable, and costs incurred when it goes wrong can feel like a gut punch. But these mistakes can be avoided! Business owners who invest into their interviewing skills can discover potential issues far in advance, and determine which candidates have the perfect complementary skill set they’re looking for.

The right candidate will feel like the missing puzzle piece for your business. To identify these partnerships with expertise, there are three important questions to answer during an interview.

Does the Candidate Fit the Position?
The first determination that a good interviewer needs to uncover is, of course, whether the candidate would have the ability to do the job for which they are applying. Candidates usually come to the table with varied experiences, and often their work history won’t include the exact position that they are applying for. This is where strong preparation from the interviewer comes in.

Drilling the position down to specific common responsibilities and duties is a good start, then compare those recurring tasks to the candidate’s work history to find any crossover in advance. These acts of preparation should inform the interviewer of which questions to ask and which details they need to clarify. No two interviews should be the same, and even candidates applying for the same role will require some flexibility from the interviewer to best determine fitness for the role.

Questions that help answer this prompt:

  • “What are your areas of expertise?”
  • “What were your primary responsibilities in your previous position?”
  • “What are some of your biggest strengths?” 
  • “What are some of your biggest weaknesses?”

Does the Candidate Fit the Company Culture?
After getting an idea of how well a candidate fits a job’s position, interviewers should set their focus on whether the candidate and company culture are a match. Every company is run differently, and even if a candidate is a great fit for the position, culture clashes will lead to issues in the future.

Starting with management preferences, many people prefer minimal supervision, but a small business owner has a natural duty to ensure a certain level of quality within their organization since it is their own reputation at stake. Understand your own management style, then compare this to the candidate’s stated preferences and the ways that they describe their relationships with previous bosses and supervisors. Personal stories have the most potential to clarify the extent that a candidate’s management preferences might affect their job performance.

Next, interviewers should get an idea of the candidate’s personality and communication styles to get an idea of how easily it will be for them to mesh with the current team (or just the owner if this is the first hire). Luckily, learning about a candidate’s personality should come easily through conversation. Many people have to battle anxiety during a job interview, and although it can be useful to see how a candidate operates under pressure, finding a way to ease their nerves will provide a more accurate impression of their personality.

Through answering this prompt, interviews should try to get a feel for things like their candidate’s maturity and ethical mindset if possible. Employees that take accountability and know how to confront adversity can be hard to come by, and they are the types of workers that will make owners wonder how they ever survived alone. Learn more about establishing a strong company culture here!

Questions that help answer this prompt:

  • “Can you think of a time when you could have done something better at your previous job?”
  • “Do you prefer working alone, or with a team?” 
  • “Can you tell me about your experience working on group projects?”
  • “Can you think of a time when things didn’t go as planned in your previous position, and you needed to adjust?”
  • “Can you give me an example of a difficult obstacle in your life, and how you overcame it?”

Does the Company Fit the Candidate?
A candidate can be perfect for the job, and they can even fit in well with a company, but if a position doesn’t line up with the candidate’s expectations or goals then a long-term partnership isn’t likely to last. Interviewers should try to gauge the candidate’s overall excitement for the position (i.e. Is this a career step, or just another job?), and determine whether the company can offer the growth opportunities they might be looking for. Some jobs are good for “right now,” and others are good for the foreseeable future - interviewers need to find out which way their candidates view the position.

The other angle that business owners need to consider is often overlooked, but critical to a successful hire. Small businesses, especially early on, can be much more demanding than other jobs. Candidates need to have a clear picture of what sort of time commitment is in store for them so that they can determine whether the flexibility of the role fits their needs. A positive work-life balance can be difficult to manage, and business owners shouldn’t expect an employee to persist in a job that doesn’t match their needs.

Questions that help answer this prompt:

  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • “What are your long-term career goals?”
  • “What is your ideal schedule?”

Strong interview skills can ensure employees and small business owners start off on the right foot. To learn when to hire, or how to orient a new employee onto your team, check out our previous articles! To learn more about starting your very own home inspection franchise, request a free info packet today!


About the Author
Kimberly Stevens, Marketing & Business Coach
The baby of eight children, Kimberly learned quickly to master the art of communication in order to be heard. She has been with NPI for more than 15 years and is passionate about getting to know our franchisees. Kimberly is a certified marketing and business coach, trainer and speaker, leading training seminars, one-to-one coaching and more. She's a high-energy, fiery red head and an eternal optimist. Her greatest joy is celebrating our franchisees’ victories!

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