As a small business owner, you know how important it is to hire the right person to work for you. The hiring process takes time and money away from your business, so it’s critical to ensure that you hire the right person so s/he can be an effective employee from the start.

So what does it take to ensure that you’ve hired the right individual? How will you know that s/he will work well with you and will share the same vision and passion for your business? A communications assessment and some forethought can have a major impact on hiring just the right person.

A couple of years ago, a client of mine asked me to assess her and her assistant in an effort to improve communications between them. I’ll call them Mary and Abigail (not their real names). I had just learned how to use the DISC in manager/employee relationships, and I was very excited about working with Mary, my client, and Abigail, her assistant.

Mary and Abigail each took the assessment on line (a 15-20 minute process), and I met with each of them individually to review the results. We wanted to learn how each communicated and how she liked to be communicated with, with the ultimate objective of improving their working relationship.

Well, the results were not quite what any of us expected. What they revealed was that Mary and Abigail were worlds apart in their professional preferences and objectives, as well as their communication styles. However, it truly identified their differences and ultimately resulted in their parting ways.

When Mary was ready to hire a new assistant, she wanted to ensure that she hired the right one. She interviewed two viable candidates, and I administered the DISC assessment to both of them individually. The results were truly remarkable in presenting a clear understanding of each candidate’s communication style and preferences, which made it considerably easier for Mary to choose the right one. In a telephone conversation with Mary a year later, I learned that she was thrilled with her assistant and that she had virtually doubled her business.

Here’s how an assessment, plus some additional key considerations can help you as you conduct an effective search for the ideal employee for your business:

~ Identify your organization’s mission and goals first—if you haven’t already. What is it you’re trying to accomplish with your business? What values are important to you? This is particularly important. Once you know what you value as a person, as a business owner, and as an employer, you can compare your values to those of your candidate. Some strategic interview questions might include:

o What did you like about your last position?
o How would you describe your personality/yourself?
o What are you passionate about?
o What do you know about our company?
o Why might you be successful in this position?

Create actual work scenarios for the candidate to describe how s/he would manage them. This is a great way to learn about the candidate’s work style and effectiveness with fellow employees and current or potential clients.

~ Be clear on the responsibilities of the position. In a small business, a valuable employee can wear many hats and play many roles. Take time to evaluate and spell out the individual tasks associated with the position.

Create a job description for the position so you can define the responsibilities (see the attached template)[INCLUDE LINK]. This will not only clarify them for you, it will also clarify them for the candidate, allowing both of you to make informed decisions about hiring and employment.

~ Screen candidates on the telephone BEFORE bringing them in for sit-down interviews. This can save you a great deal of time and energy. A day’s worth of face-to-face interviewing was once described to me as trying to keep a party of 50 people going for 8 hours. Interviewing a series of candidates in person for any length of time is exhausting and makes it difficult for you to remember which candidate said what. Screening your candidates on the telephone can weed out unqualified applicants.

~ Establish your vacation, benefits, time-on and time-off policies ahead of time. It’s important that you are clear as to what you expect from the potential employee. Some candidates like to work with small companies because the owners are believed to be more flexible. Determine just how flexible you want to be and set expectations from the beginning about start/close times, time off, make-up time, etc.

~ Use an assessment to evaluate the candidate’s communications skills and work preferences. As illustrated earlier, assessments can truly help you define communications, work, technical skills, and in some cases, industry knowledge. There are many options to assess potential candidates for employment, including Meyers Briggs, Birkman Method, DISC, to mention a few.

Some assessments are more involved and more expensive than others. For me, the simplest and most affordable method is the DISC. It’s reasonably priced, straightforward (no interpretation needed), and can be taken on line in 15-20 minutes. A certified evaluator or coach then reviews the results in a candidate interview and relay the information to you. Assessing a candidate from the start will give you a clearer picture of how s/he communicates and relates to you and others in your organization, as well as your clients.

Also, if you are a new small business owner, you may want to bring an employee on board who is willing and able to help create the position and design and develop its responsibilities and tasks. In this situation, you truly want to know the candidate’s communication style and motivation. An assessment can be extremely valuable here.

You work hard at building and maintaining your business. Save yourself time and money by ensuring that you engage the right individual with whom you can work well and whom you can employ to grow your business and share your passion for your work. See what it can do you for your business!

Author's Bio: 

Peggy Titus-Hall is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach focusing on career transition and communications coaching and training. Peg works with individuals who are looking for their ideal careers and coaches organizations in need of employee communications and hiring support. She hosts an on-line radio program entitled “The Career Coach,” featuring experienced guests and topics for career transitioners and job seekers. She also publishes and distributes “The Coaching Call,” a monthly coaching/communications newsletter. Visit Peg’s Web site at .