Hiring Top Talent: How to Ensure Your Next Hire is the Right Fit

Scaling / January 5, 2017 / JD

You’re adding a new member to your team, and you deserve a rockstar to help grow your small business. With the right focus, you can hire top talent that will elevate your business to the next level.


You may think you don’t have the knowledge, experience or resources to hire the best person. You might feel overwhelmed about hiring because making the wrong decision can create a toxic work environment, fail to meet your expectations or end up costing you money in the long run.

You want to find someone who will compliment your strengths and weaknesses, have a growth mindset that fits your company’s goals, and improve its culture.

Check out these tips for creating a hiring strategy that focuses on your company’s culture, values and team integration to help you punch above your weight getting you the right hire.

Running the interview

For every good interview process, there are a million bad ones. Finding the right one depends on many factors unique to your business. What is the company culture, requirements of the job and size of your business? These are all factors which will help define which processes you enact and which ones you don’t. While there are many things you will want to consider, here are some things every interview process should keep in mind:

You are asking for help

Before you start the interview process, the first thing you need to do remember that by putting out the “help wanted” sign, you are saying “I need help”. Acknowledge this from the get go and get into the right mindset from the start. Your focused should be finding the best candidate to help you and your business, not who survived a gauntlet of questions and tests.

When you start the interview, be humble, with an open mind and be glad that this person wants to work for your business.

Good Interviewing Skills ≠ Good Job Fit

When you decide to send out an offer to a candidate, your decision may have a profound effect on their life. They will have greater financial security, a more fulfilling career and be one step closer to their life goals. Candidates may depend on getting this job and are worried about saying one thing that you don’t like.

This is why it is important to remember: Good interview skills does not mean good job fit. Don’t be dazzled by how well someone interviews because talking the talk isn’t walking the walk. When you focus on how well someone interviews, you may miss out on many of the skills that matter for the job and you might skip over the most qualified person.

Try and make your candidates comfortable. Offer them some water or coffee when they first come in. Candidates often come early, so let them know where the facilities are and give them an estimate on how long they may have to wait. By putting them at ease right away, you will get to know the person during your interview and learn how they would work on a regular work day.

Discussion Not Interrogation

Too often interviews are seen as interrogations, trying to find a ‘gotcha’ moment where so you dismiss them. A good interview should be closer to comfortable conversation where you both learn about each other in a real and honest way. Don’t focus on trying to catch someone in a lie.

Instead, listen and consider their responses carefully. You will be more engaged in the conversation allowing for open and honest discussion and the candidate will notice. They will see you are interested in their answers, and be more candid, enabling you to make more informed decisions.

Asking the right Questions

Whatever you ask during the interview should focus on three things:

  1. Can they do the job?
  2. How will they work in your team?
  3. Will they elevate your company?

Here is a list of questions and answers to look for that you can use as a starting point to hire the right fit for your business.

Can they do the job?

The technical part of the interview will vary greatly depending on the specific requirements of the job. There are some basics you need to cover such as legally required certifications, or if they have experience with the essential tools needed for the job.

What you should be asking:

  • How long have they been in your current role?
  • What tools have they used in the past?
  • Do you have any certificates?
  • What has been the most difficult thing to learn, and how were you able to overcome it?

What you are looking for:

  • Have they have mastered their tools?
  • Are they up to date with industry standards?
  • Are they at the skill and experience level you are needing?
  • Have they been able to fill in gaps in their knowledge through courses or learning on their own?

How will they work with your team?

This part of the interview focuses on how well they will mesh with the current make of your business. Are they a lone wolf and your team is highly collaborative? Do they prefer to rely on colleagues as a resource when you expect autonomy? Do they react to stress in a way that might be disruptive? You are trying to discover traits a candidate has that should not be thought of as good or bad, and instead as traits that might not jell with your team as it is currently made up?

What you should be asking:

  • Describe a problem you faced in a previous position that was challenging. How did you go about solving it?
  • Can you give me an example of a high-stress situation you’ve faced and how you managed this?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where everything goes wrong? What happened and how did you approach that situation?
  • What is your biggest professional failure? What did you learn from it?
  • What kind of team do you work best with?
  • How would your current colleagues describe you?
  • Describe a situation where you were stuck. What did you do about it?

What you are looking for:

  • How do they work with others?
  • Do they have the right balance between autonomy with collaboration?
  • How do they handle stress?
  • Are they able to learn from their mistakes and grow?
  • Do they ask for help?
  • Do they bring new complementary soft skills that will elevate your team?

Will they elevate the company?

Good candidates will have shared values, not shared traits. You want to find out if this candidate will not only do the job they are asked to do, but if they will go above and beyond. Will they bring passion or negativity? Do they have pride in their work and are unwilling to comprise quality? Will they put in extra time to get the job done and will they be invested in helping your business grow?

What you should be asking:

  • What motivates and inspires you?
  • Tell me about your best work day and what got you to that point?
  • What makes you feel accomplished?
  • What’s been the hardest challenge you faced and what have you gotten out of it?
  • If you were to look back at yourself when you started, what advice would you give yourself?
  • What project gives you the most pride?
  • Describe a situation where you went above and beyond your job description.

What you are looking for:

  • What is their intent?
  • What motivates them?
  • What experiences and perspectives do they offer which have value to you?
  • Do they share your company values?

When Things Don’t Line Up

If you start to get answers that don’t line up, or you get a feeling in your gut that something doesn’t fit right, it is time to dig deeper and get a better picture of the candidate. Your intuition might not indicate a lie, and the candidate might be nervous or explained a point poorly. That shouldn’t disqualify a candidate, and you should give them a second chance to explain themselves.

When you receive an answer that doesn’t sit right with you, or that might contradict something they said earlier, ask follow-up questions:

  • Why did you do that?
  • Did you consider something else before going in this direction?
  • Did you find that choice difficult to make?
  • That sounds interesting, can you tell me more about that?

You deserve the best possible hire for your business. Follow these tips, and you’ll be pointed in the right direction to hire someone that is a good fit for your company. Not just because of experience, or their ability to answer questions, but because you know what drives them, how they’ll mesh with your company culture, their values and how they will integrate with your team.

Got the interview process down pat but need help attracting more potential candidates? Read How To Compete with Corporate When Hiring For Your Small Business for ideas on how to make your job posting shine above the others.

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