For any business, big or small, the hiring process is a complex beast with many moving parts. Best hiring practices are particularly important for niche businesses. Not only do you need a hard worker, but you also want to hire the best match for your niche or small business.
This guide will look at three strategies to find and recruit candidates that will help your business thrive. You’ll learn how to:
- Know Your Ideal Employee
- Look Beyond Your Local Pool
- Ask Revealing Interview Questions
From a bakery or boutique to a cattery or dog kennel, by following these best hiring practices, you’ll find and retain the perfect person (or people!) for your growing team. Ready to improve your hiring practices? Let’s begin by addressing the qualities a niche business needs in a candidate.
Know Your Ideal Employee
One of the first things you should do when updating hiring practices for your niche business is pin down your ideal candidate’s defining features. To do this, hold conversations with your existing and former employees, customers, and partners to answer the following questions:
- What should the ideal employee in this role value? Which of your business’s core values do they demonstrate most regularly?
- What are the interests of the ideal employee in this role? Do they have a background in your industry or in similar roles? Are they big picture thinkers or focused on day-to-day minutiae?
- What skills should the ideal employee in this role possess? What is their formal and informal training? Do they possess any specific certifications?
- What would attract the ideal employee to this role? In addition to direct compensation, are there other benefits, such as a generous PTO package or schedule flexibility, that would attract your ideal candidate?
Then, create a job posting that addresses your answers to these questions. Just as different jobs are suited to different people, different people have different reasons for applying for a job. Recruiting techniques for millennials, for instance, may necessitate different approaches than those for Gen Z.
Ultimately, knowing your ideal candidate’s specific values, interests, skills, and qualities will allow you to tailor your hiring practices.
How might this work in practice? Let’s consider a dog daycare business in the midst of hiring a new manager to help run the business and set the daycare policies.
Because of the role, they may determine that they need someone who is experienced with dogs and has a background in management to fill the position. But doing job outreach on a general job board would likely prove unproductive and end up swamping their inbox with unqualified applicants.
Instead, they could reach out to their network of dog owners, daycare staff, partners, and providers for recommendations of trained, dog-loving candidates. Revelation Pets, for example, recommends using software that automates your communications and helps you get the word out to everyone in your database with the click of a button. Often, these referrals lead to some of the best fits for niche businesses.
Look Beyond Your Local Pool
Don’t limit your candidate search to your existing and local contacts. Your best hires may be in a different city, state, or country! Luckily, in today’s digital ecosystem, you can reach and assess candidates anywhere in the world without leaving your office chair, dog grooming station, or Zoom screen.
To truly make the position available to those beyond your existing contact list and regular pool of candidates, plan to:
- Share the job posting widely. Leverage the many digital tools at your disposal to post the job opening on relevant online job boards and your social media pages. To give public visibility, post regularly on multiple platforms and encourage your followers to reshare with their networks.
- Leverage online assessments and video interviews. As you narrow down your prospects, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars flying each remote candidate into town for interviews. For most positions, you can conduct these interviews virtually.
If the job itself will be in-person, make sure that your expectations are clearly detailed in your posting. Additionally, to incentivize a move to your area, offer remote candidates a relocation stipend to cover a potentially costly move.
Ask Revealing Interview Questions
While you can gain a sense of an applicant’s skills and personality from their resume and cover letter, there’s nothing like a live interview. Whether it’s conducted in person or (as discussed above) in live video interviews, an interview has the potential to reveal a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. But this is only the case if you ask the right questions.
In general, every question you ask should be:
- Open-ended. Avoid questions that can be answered in one word. Instead, phrase your questions in ways that require a longer response by using words such as “what,” “how,” and “why.”
- Grounded in specific details. You’ll get a better sense of the candidate when they ground their answers in concrete specifics. With every question, ask the candidate to include examples in their response.
- Both retrospective and prospective. In addition to asking about their background, plan to ask questions that connect those past experiences to what they plan to do in the future.
- Focused on role-related knowledge and skills. Use the interview to address a candidate’s familiarity or experiences with the tools and skills they’ll need in the new role. For example, ask about their experience with industry-specific software or a time when they had to learn and adapt to new tools.
If you’re unsure what to ask, start with a premade list of revealing interview questions. These questions may include the following:
- Why did you leave your last job, and what do you want to be different in your next one?
- What is an example of things you do to show kindness and consideration to your colleagues?
- If you were recruiting for this position, what are the top five things you’d be looking for?
- What is motivating your job search?
- What is an example of an unpopular management decision, and how did your team handle it?
- Describe something from your last performance review that was indicated as a weakness or needing improvement. What did you do to turn it around?
That said, don’t rely exclusively on an interview to make a decision. There is a range of qualities that make a great employee, and even the best interview won’t be able to address them all perfectly. Use your interviews as just one of the numerous tools in your hiring practices arsenal.
While it can be tempting to rush through the hiring process, don’t! You’re hiring for more than a body to fill an empty chair, and rushing the process can result in missed red flags that could have been easily caught.
Simply put: A poor hire can cost your business money and negatively impact your business. On the other hand, the right hire can help your business grow in new and unexpected ways. Good luck!