How to Hire Your First Employees

Avoid putting a bad team around you by following these tips.
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The people you hire will play an integral role in the future of your business so make sure they will help you succeed. (Photo: scyther5/Shutterstock)

One of the trickiest parts of starting your own business is building a team that can help you succeed. Having a good – or even great – idea for a business will only get you so far if you don’t have employees who can help you execute that vision. Part of Steve Jobs’ genius wasn’t about his own ability to create great products, but in surrounding himself with people who could.

One bad hire can be your downfall, so you want to be sure that each team member is the product of a careful and assiduous process of deliberation, a process informed by a comprehensive round of interviews.

So what sort of questions should you be asking? What factors should you consider when eliminating a candidate or deciding to make one an offer? We asked Staci Epstein, President & CEO of Be Group, a talent-­placement firm that specializes in recruiting and placing highly qualified sales and marketing­-and­-communications professionals what she looks for.

Are they experienced?

This doesn’t necessarily mean professionally, but rather, has the person ever worked with others to meet a common goal? “I would look for someone that has been involved in team activities,” explains Epstein. “Sports are great because they show drive, dedication, teamwork, collaboration, and supporting others.”

Is there trust?

Whoever you hire will likely play an integral role in the future of your company – and therefore in your own future. You should have trust in the person you’re giving such influence to. Do you have confidence in their ability to handle the demands and pressures of the job? Are you confident they’ll be honest with you? These are just a few of the questions you should ask before making a final decision.

Do you like them?

In all likelihood, you’ll be working closely day in and day out with your employees. To the extent that it’s possible, you should make sure that you like them, and that they like each other.

Don’t shy away from risk

There’s certainly nothing wrong with taking a chance on someone. You’re most likely not at the point where each position is specialized and every internal process has been streamlined.

There’s room to learn and grow, to tweak here and there when something goes awry.

With this in mind it’s important to be flexible and look for candidates who, though perhaps not necessarily the most conservative choice, possess some intangible quality that will be of benefit to you and the rest of your team. Remember, it’s the rare business that succeeds without taking chances.

Remember, you’re also being interviewed

“It’s a two-­way street – so just as the candidate has to impress you, make sure you care to show them what you have to offer,” explains Epstein. “Share your values, mission, culture, goals – and hire to your culture – do not deviate. This is one of the biggest things I hear every day from clients and candidates.”

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