Posted on: 27 March 2015

Micro-business owners work an average of 52 hours a week1, 15 hours more than the national average2,. Many would admit that part of the reason for this is their unwillingness to relinquish control over everything to do with their business.

But there comes a time when there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all on your own. It’s a momentous day when you realise that you need another pair of hands working in the business, but what mistakes do you need to avoid when employing people for the first time, how do you know you’re bringing in the right person and how can a recruitment agency help?

Premierline recently spoke to Toby Thwaites, Managing Director of award winning recruitment consultancy Purple Consultancy, for his thoughts on how to find employees and employing staff for the first time:

What element of recruitment do most first time employers get wrong? And how can they get it right?

“One of the biggest mistakes employers make when recruiting staff for the first time is ignoring cultural fit. When time and cost is restricted, often businesses will take on someone with the right skills and experience, but often overlook the importance of personality fit. In SMEs especially, with smaller teams the culture is vital, as the people are the bloodline of the business. A good culture helps to motivate staff and help bring success and it is something that many employers overlook when employing someone for the first time. The phrase “hire for culture, train for skill” is one that many recruiters understand to be the best route to finding a perfect employee fit.”

How does a business decide whether to recruit their first employee full v part time, temporarily v permanently and contract v freelance?

“What sort of employee your first hire should be is heavily dependent on the type of business you are in and the role you are recruiting for. Each type of employee, whether it be permanent, freelance or contract can offer benefits to your business. Permanent employees are vital to ensure the day to day running of the business goes smoothly. You want employees who know the company inside and out and are invested in every aspect of it – only permanent employees can offer this.

“For start-ups especially, it would be beneficial to have a flexible workforce, as the business can scale up the workforce when necessary to match the peaks and troughs that a new business faces in the first year or two of business. Freelance and contract workers can often benefit the business with their wide pool of experience and knowledge from working in multiple businesses. It is also more affordable and immediate which again for a new business would be ideal.”

How does a small business owner know that they're hiring the right person?

“When used correctly the interview process can take you through all the stages to finding the right person for the role. If you have used the right resources to locate the candidates, if their skill set qualifies the needs of the role, you have conducted first and second round interviews and they pass on all levels, as well as personality fit, then the candidate you select should be the right one.

“Some 33% of bosses claim they know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone or not3, so remember to take heed of first impressions because your instincts are usually right.”

When employing staff for the first time, why should a small business work with a recruitment agency or consultancy instead of employing direct?

“For a small business, finding the right people is one of the most critical components to success. Not only does a new employee need to fit the role requirements but also the culture. The best recruiters will have their finger on the pulse of their specialist market and due to a bigger reach they are able to find the most talented and perfect fit for your organisation.

“Some small businesses may be start-ups that do not yet have a strong position in the market. A good recruiter would be able to assist with positioning your business in the market ensuring you were able to attract the right talent. Employer brand is also something that a start-up may not have had experience in developing, which is important in a competitive market as it’s what attracts people to work with you. A recruiter would help you develop this and PR your business in the right way.

“In terms of hiring people for the first time, it is best to outsource. Most small businesses will not have the internal resources or expertise to approach the recruitment process, which could lead to a lot of wasted time and money. Using an expert recruiter simplifies the whole process, and they can implement a best practice model for the whole recruitment process assisting you with everything from search to selection stage. Some roles will require different screening processes, a recruiter can advise you on which route to take whether it be a presentation or technical tests in order to extract the very best talent for your business.

“There may be a situation when a candidate that is in for interview is not ideal. It is just as important knowing how to deal with them as it is with a good candidate. It’s helpful to have a third party in place to give feedback and ensure there are no lasting bad impressions or repercussions that can come from turning someone down for a role.”

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/jan/07/useful-time-saving-tips

[2] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/january-2015/statistical-bulletin.html#tab-4--Actual-Hours-Worked

[3] http://www.classesandcareers.com/advisor/what-you-wish-youd-known-before-your-job-interview/

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Taking on staff - do's and don'ts for interviews

Business Guidance

Taking on staff - do's and don'ts for interviews

14 January 2014

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