Small Business Recruitment

by | May 5, 2019

You are looking to hire your first employee, that’s great, it means your business is growing or its time to let it grow further.

Job Ad Market

You have a few options to start finding the right employee

Free job ads can be placed on social media platforms such as Facebook, there are many jog groups in your area that will help find someone local to you.

Gumtree is another option, if you’re not using it for other ads you can place a free ad here under the relevant category and can show the job location for again a local candidate.

If you really want to find a great first employee and can afford the fee, I recommend Seek, its about $300 for a standard ad and you will attract serious contenders here. You can ask basic questions relevant to your position which will help speed up the process on your side with screening the candidates.

Who is the right candidate

From there, I have a few things I personally look for in the employee.

Job history, if they have moved around too much they will most likely move from your business quickly too. Hiring a new employee costs you money, not just the job ad but the induction process and teaching them what you want them to do in your business, so avoid the job hoppers.

Education, currently studying might mean they are not available to work what you need. If it’s not clear on the resume or cover letter, email them and ask the question.

References, always, always ask for relevant references if they are not supplied. It’s normal for a candidate’s current position not to be listed as they might be moving on and don’t want them to know about it. Be mindful that references supplied are people the candidate knows will sing their praises, so sometimes it’s not that valuable.

Location, location, location

Some applicants are desperate for work and will apply for positions outside their local area. Also, be mindful of the applicant that has to apply for work from the Centrelink demands.

Either of these can be time wasters, people looking to travel too far won’t want to do it for long and might see your position as a stepping stone to something else closer to home.

Pre-interview questions

If they don’t reply to the questions, count them out, this could be the Centrelink applicants or someone that found something else during this time.

Phone them before you offer an interview

You need to hear their voice, trust me! Keep a question up your sleeve to ask them if you have already emailed them. If you like what you hear, then invite them to the interview.

If you leave a voicemail, be specific, mention your position available and when they can best call you back.

If you leave a voicemail and they don’t phone you back within 24 hours, count them out. They either found something else or they were not serious to begin with.

Understand that many job seekers these days are applying for many positions and they won’t know which one yours is, so give some detail when speaking to them about their application.

Email them an invite to the interview to confirm the details, it’s a good idea to officialise everything. An email to confirm the interview with all the details like day, time and address and who they are meeting. This is for 2 reasons, it makes you look professional and sets that expectation and also, if they don’t turn up you have the evidence of confirmation and no excuses of misunderstanding.

Another way this works is you will test their attention to detail, if they go to the right place at the right time and ask for the right person, they score points!


If they are late, don’t waste your time! If they phone you and explain they are lost and literally running and you can hear them running, that’s ok, you will hear their stress and know it is genuine.

If they have asked to reschedule, don’t bother, if they can’t make the interview, unless there has been a death in the family and they are clearly distraught then they are not serious about the position or have a better interview to attend.

Depending on the position you are offering, it’s a good idea to have a questionnaire for them to fill out. This will show you their hand writing and attention to detail. And it also gives you time to observe their mannerism under pressure.

If their hand writing is terrible, this is not always a deal breaker, again depending on your position available.

If they leave out something like Name, or something else, this means their attention to detail could be missing and you need to ask them once you start reviewing the document why they didn’t fill parts out.

Refer to the questions you emailed them and those answers to see if there is anything further to the standard responses.

Ask them why they are leaving their current position if they are currently employed.

Ask them why they left previous positions

If any questions are answered with things like “they treated me badly’” or “the boss was a bully” this is not a good sign. It means they have either respect issues or negativity issues. A professional person would never bad mouth a previous workplace in their potential new workplace. A professional person would say something more like “the conditions were not ideal for me” or “the boss could sometimes be unreasonable” You will be able to see in the way they answer the question if they were genuinely in a bad situation or just a disgruntled ex employee.

Ask them their future goals, where do you want to be in 5 years.

Based on the answer, lead into questions about how they are going to get there.

Ask them about their hobbies, people love to talk about themselves and you are going to see the real person once they get comfortable.

Ask the candidate what they can bring to your business.

Ask them why you would hire them over other applicants.

Ask them when they can start, if it’s not on your questionnaire.

Ensure during the interview that you speak about the hourly rate, this is very important. You will have an idea from the email questions and already know they are in your ball park, so lay it on the table and ask them to be direct with you.

“In your email reply, you said $20 to $25 per hour, what do you think is fair for this position?”

If they answer with $25 and you are thinking $23, tell them you would consider starting them on $23 and have $25 in review at 3 months.

At no point do you lead them into thinking they have the position. You might be thinking to yourself, I’ve found them, but don’t give it away.

Don’t waste time on all your standard interview steps if it’s not the right person. You might normally show them around or introduce them to others, don’t do this if you don’t want to hire them.

Consider having someone else interview with you or get them to join you at some point of the interview if you are unsure about the candidate or want a second opinion.

If you operate on your own, you can always do a second interview for the ones you are not sure about. Sometimes nervous candidates are worth a second interview, they will be more relaxed the second time as they have been there before and know who they are meeting already.

If you are unsure you finish the interview with “I have a few other people to see” and you will let them know within 24-48 hours. Sometimes I have even told them if you don’t hear from me you know you have been unsuccessful as this can save you a lot of time in following up later.

If you are completely blown away with them, don’t hesitate to call them as soon as you are sure you want to offer them the position.

Prior to Commencing

Follow the phone call with an email of an official letter of offer, this will outline the position, rate of pay, start date and attire to wear on the first day. And ask them to return the email accepting the position.

It would also be beneficial to have a contract to attached to the email. The new employee can sign this with you on their first day, but it gives them the opportunity to read your employee conditions prior to officially accepting the position.

It would also be a good opportunity to attach the JD (job description) prior to accepting the position so that everything is perfectly clear about the role they are commencing.

I know this all sounds over the top, but trust me, it’s the right time to have all the cards on the table and not waste your time on a new employee that is not fully informed and interested in exactly what’s on offer.

If they then read all your documents and have questions this is ok. Depending on their questions.

If they want to negotiate the terms such as rate of pay, this is not a good sign as you have already had their agreeance from the email and in person at the interview. Some people these days can try to avoid these awkward moments and confrontation, but if you have followed my suggestions on the interview process, it won’t be an issue with a genuine candidate and if it is an issue, you most likely

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