One of the most “mixed feelings” moments for entrepreneurs is the time when they realize they need help running their businesses. The realization that it’s time to bring in outside help can be a cool, but an anxiety-inducing feeling.
Whether you’re deciding to hire virtually or in person, there are some nuances that come along with finding the right person and bringing them on board. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way that I hope can help you find the right person the first time.
Tips for Interviewing Your First Employee
1. “Tell me about yourself” is not a bullshit question
Yes, it’s one we all hated answering in interviews, but it’s a clutch question to ask in order to find out whether or not this will be the right hire for your culture (even if you’re the only other person in the business). Hearing about their background and what makes them tick will help you understand if this is a person you’ll be able to work with successfully.
2. Don’t be intimidated to ask tough questions
One thing I had to overcome was to stop being a people-pleaser and instead be a manager of people. Ask direct questions relating to the role: what skills or tasks are there that are critical to making this employee successful? What is it that needs to be explicitly understood about this role? Direct them to rephrase things in their own way so that you can see whether or not they’ll be able to understand the duties and responsibilities assigned to them.
3. Answer their questions and encourage them to ask more
You’re only seeing this role from one angle, so take the opportunity to see it through their perspective by having them ask you questions. Be sure to answer them as honestly as you can (again, don’t try to be a people-pleaser, instead be realistic).
4. Give them actual situations and have them respond to it
When I hired a podcast editor, I would ask my interviewees what their process is and how we would communicate to make sure everything was done and uploaded on time. Walk your interviewee through a process and ask them how they would handle the situation. This helps you understand their qualifications, experience, and if they’re going to be able to do it in a way that is satisfactory.
5. Give them a trial task
If you’re ready to move them to the next phase of interviews and need help weeding out the perfect candidate, give your “finalists” an actual task to accomplish. This will help you see how they’ll actually produce work you need, the ability to handle timelines, and understand roughly the amount of management they’ll need (Also, please pay them for this!).
When you hire someone, it can be a difficult transition for a solopreneur, especially if you’ve been handling things all alone! I always recommend phasing the tasks in a little at a time once you’ve hired an employee. By slowly increasing their workload, you both become acclimated to the transfer of duties and can begin slipping out of the Jill-of-All-Trades and into the role of CEO/Owner/Manager.