Hiring New Employees: The FIVE KEY “W” Questions

Since employees are one of the most expensive lines on most P&Ls and have a significant impact on revenue and profitability, entrepreneurs must personally take responsibility for hiring employees.

As a journalism major who worked as a newspaper reporter for a short time, I find that the core journalism questions can help with most decisions, including:

1. Who to Hire?

Generally, hire for attitude and train necessary skills.

People who are likable, enjoy working, desire to do well and are reasonably smart can be trained to accomplish many jobs. Admittedly, there are skill positions that must be filled by people who already have the necessary expertise, but even these people must be positive/motivated workers.

2. What to Look for?

There are only three absolute requirements when you are screening candidates:

Can they do the job?

To be hired, the person definitely must be able to do the job. Whatever the physical or proficiency requirements, the person needs to prove to you that they can accomplish whatever you require.

Obviously, this means you need to predetermine each job’s specific duties and use a review list while interviewing and selecting new hires.

To make this assessment, probe during interviews about their relevant previous work experiences and always question references.

Do they want to do the job…the entire job?

This can be difficult to determine since some people need a job or find something about your situation desirable even though they object to a critical component.

It’s believed that people who enjoy doing their jobs tend to stay longer, work better, and cause fewer problems.

Do you want to work with them?

Here you need to both trust your gut AND also ask others who will work directly with the potential hire. While only the owner has the responsibility to hire, I suggest that you are cautious about hiring anyone who current employees are uncomfortable with.

Caution: Don’t just hire those most similar to yourself. Take a little longer with those differing from your current team (for example: older/younger) and work to diversify to bring in different perspectives and broaden and strengthen your team.

3. When to Hire?

Each part of this contradictory advice is important to understand and try to follow:

Begin looking for the next employee earlier than you believe is necessary since it often takes a long time to find a great employee and they sometimes take longer than anticipated to ramp up to full productivity.
Hire after you have proven the need: After you personally have worked double shifts, lost profitability, and/or paid more in overtime for several months than a new hire will cost.

4. Where (which positions) to Hire?

Hire for positions that fit one of these criteria:

Directly effects profitability
Risks the business (or at least profitability) if left vacant
Backs up a core employee
Backs up a problem employee in a necessary function

5. Why Hire Now?

The new hire will:

Protect the business from major danger or loss, or
Propel the business to increased profitability.

Had this blog been titled the 7 Questions, I would have continued discussing How and How Much…but I believe you can write these sections yourself.

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