Ask SmallBiz: Recruiting

Q.   I need to hire a general manager, but no one working for me now has the right stuff. How do I find the best person?

A.  Recruiting can take a lot of time and, though many employers are proficient in their own professions – whether it’s law, tourism or something else – they may not be good at recruiting. One solution is to hire a staffing firm that has the expertise to help you find the best candidate. But, if you are going to do it on your own, here are steps to take:

1. Search widely: Advertise on your own website, email clients, vendors and staff to spread the word, post on local and national job boards, and then be prepared for a flood of resumes and inquiries from all over the world.

2. Filter quickly: You’ll have to work smartly and efficiently to sift through the many resumes, because the “good ones” will get hired fast! The danger is that you will miss the best person because of the flood of applicants. At this point, you can remove the ads or continue to accept candidates.

Prescreen the best with phone calls to create a short list, then conduct in-person interviews with each finalist. Also schedule interviews between the candidates and key stakeholders in your organization, such as senior staff members. Carefully weigh those stakeholders’ opinions.

3. Do due diligence: When you have one or two finalists, check references, verify educational credentials and conduct other background checks. The skills needed differ from industry to industry, but there are desirable traits common to all companies and regions, such as:

  • Great work history, work ethic and attitude
  • “Fit” with your corporate culture
  • Strategic thinking
  • Big picture, broad business understanding
  • Good communication skills – written and verbal
  • Analytical, with critical thinking skills
  • Good judgment
  • Willingness to take risks
  • Team leader and team player
  • Understanding of technology
  • Ability to handle change, deadlines and pressure
  • Innovative and solutions oriented

4. Followup: Once the No. 1 choice accepts your offer, inform other shortlisted candidates courteously, because, if your person does not work out, you may want the others as fallbacks. Remember that how you treat candidates will have a powerful effect on your organization’s image, which can affect sales and future recruiting.


Interviewing Skills

Effective interviewing requires curiosity and a good understanding of the job to be done, plus the ability to:

  • Effectively ask both open questions and specific questions
  • Truly listen to answers
  • Understand body language
  • Challenge the candidate with relevant behavioral questions, such as, “Tell me about a time when you had to terminate an employee for a bad attitude and exactly what words you used,” or “Tell me about a time where your idea became a company initiative, and what that initiative’s effect was on the organization.”


Judy Bishop
Owner of Bishop and Co., which provides staffing assistance to employers and job seekers.

Categories: Business & Industry, Human Resources