Posts Tagged ‘New Employees’

Business Owners: 5 Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview

crop380w_istock_000003401233xsmall-question-marksHiring can be one of the most difficult parts of being a business owner. You look for the best people for your company and you ultimately end up making your decision based on one event: the interview.

So, how can you conduct an interview that will reveal your next employee of the month? According to Kathleen Lapekas, founder of Lapekas HR Consulting in Evansville, Ind., it all comes down to how you phrase your questions.

“The best types of questions are directly job related and behavior-based,” she says. “Ask someone to explain a time when they had a co-worker that drove them nuts and how they handled it. Keep them talking about real scenarios to learn more about your candidate.”

Lapekas recommends staying away from the following questions:

Question #1: When did you graduate from high school?

While this question may seem benign, it can be perceived as trying to find out a candidate’s age, which is discriminatory.

“You can ask someone when they graduated from college because people graduate from college at different ages, but you can’t say anything about high school because it is assumed that most people graduated when they were around 18 years old,” says Lapekas. 

Question #2: What do you do for fun?

Be careful with this one. Unless your candidate offers, keep the conversation focused on the role at hand. Why?

“By asking someone what they do for fun, they may tell you that they are an active member in the National Rifle Association or that they just marched in the local Gay Pride parade,” she says. “You don’t want find out anything in the interview that later—especially if you don’t hire the person—can be perceived as ammo for discrimination.”

Questions #3: When are you due?

It is never acceptable to ask a female candidate if she is pregnant. If, though, she mentions that she is expecting, leave it at that. Do not ask her when she is due. As Lapekas explains, pregnancy is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits any employer discrimination.

Question #4: Are there any medical issues or medications that we need to know about?

“This is hard because obviously you want to know if you are buying a future heart attack,” she says. “But employers can no longer do pre-employment physicals (note: pre-employment drug screenings are allowed by law). In some states you can’t even ask if someone is a smoker.”

Question #5: Where do you go to church?

Race, sex, age, gender, ethnicity and religion are all protected under law and cannot be mentioned in an interview.

“Even if you live in a small town where everyone goes to the same church, keep it out of the interview,” advises Lapekas. 

Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Start Staffing Up for the Holidays

woman-shopping-online-for-christmasIs your small business going to need more help this year to handle the holiday rush and provide great customer service? If so, you’d better get a move on: A recent survey commissioned by Snagajob reports that nearly 70 percent of hiring managers will be adding hourly workers this holiday season, up from last year—and they’ll be adding 28 percent more seasonal employees than last year.

Most managers who are adding seasonal workers started hiring last month, and will complete their seasonal staffing this month. That means competition is stiff. So if you’ve waited, here are some strategies to help in your seasonal hiring:

  • Tap your social networks. Post seasonal job openings on your business website, of course, but also promote them on your social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Use photos or videos to give a feel for what it’s like to work at your business and make it look fun and exciting. Of course, you should also check in with your contacts on social networks such as LinkedIn to see if they have any suggestions for people seeking seasonal work.
  • Try a temporary agency. If you want to avoid the headaches of hunting for workers, as well as the hassles of handling all the paperwork and tax withholding, a temporary agency can be a good solution. Tell the temp agency what you want, and they’ll find prospective candidates for you to interview. You pay the temp agency and they pay the worker, plus handle all the documentation, payroll and tax withholding that’s needed so you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Think outside the box. Many seniors and stay-at-home moms are looking for extra money around the holidays. Depending on your seasonal hiring needs, these types of candidates could be perfect for you. Tap into local PTAs, tot lots or other organizations that attract stay-at-home moms (you can find lots of them on Facebook) to let people know you’re hiring. Contact senior centers to see if you can post job listings on their boards or otherwise spread the word.
  • Work with schools. Teens are the classic seasonal employee and the recession has left many teens looking for work as adults are filling jobs that typically went to them. Contact high school career centers or counselors, or college career or job placement centers, to find out about posting your seasonal job listings. Many will be happy to put their students in touch with you.  
  • Go virtual. If you need customer service people to handle phone calls or online inquiries, consider hiring virtual customer service reps. You can place listings with companies such as oDesk or SimplyHired.

It’s not too late to find the perfect seasonal workers—you just have to know where to look. 

Nextiva Tuesday Tip: 4 Ways to Build Team Spirit at Your Business

teambuildingDo you wish your employees would always do their jobs cheerfully and enthusiastically, provide great customer service, and go above and beyond the call of duty? Employees who truly feel they are part of a team will do all this and more. By building close bonds among yourself and your employees, you’ll create a strong team that works as a unit to get the job done. So how can you build team spirit among your employees? Here are four tips.

  1. Get to know each other. Employees bond when they feel like their employer and co-workers really know them and care about what matters in their lives. Don’t see your employees simply as job descriptions, but get to know each of them—their interests, hobbies, passions and families. Encourage your employees to get to know each other, too.
  2. Make work fun. Of course, not every day can be a nonstop party, but employees bond better when work is a fun place to be. Employee events add to the fun, whether off-site (like bowling nights, happy hours or beach barbecues) or on-site (potluck lunches, Halloween costume days or silly contests like who can decorate their cube the craziest). Put some employees in charge of coming up with fun events and give them a budget (it doesn’t have to cost a  lot to have a little fun).
  3. Get together. Meetings are an important part of team bonding. They don’t have to be long and boring—a quick Monday morning meeting to get everyone on the same page for the week can be a great team-booster. Even if your employees work from home or you outsource to independent contractors, find time for in-person meetings at least a few times a year so your team can get to know each other on a personal level.
  4. Understand each other’s jobs. Make sure your employees know what each other does and how each person’s role fits into the business as a whole and relates to the other jobs. This will create a better understanding of how the team works and drive home the fact that the team is only as good as its weakest link.

When employees feel like a team, they’ll work like a team, and that will boost your business. 

Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Managing Millennial Employees

millennialsIf you’re like most small business owners, young adults make up a big portion (if not the majority) of your work force. But if you’re not a 20-something yourself, you might be struggling with how to manage this generation. Also called “Millennials,” the generation born in 1980 or later brings special skills, but also some challenges. Here are some tips for working effectively with Millennial employees.

Take advantage of their “digital native” status. Growing up online, Millennials have innate digital savvy that can benefit your business. Tap them to manage your social media, develop your website or create online videos for marketing purposes. Enlist Millennials to mentor older, less tech-savvy workers in things like using smartphones for business or understanding your CRM system.

Give them relevant work. Millennials want to feel they’re making a difference in your business. Even though an entry-level job may involve a certain amount of busywork, make sure all Millennials have the opportunity to take on bigger projects or make their own decisions about how work gets done. Don’t micro-manage them, but give them general guidelines and let them run with it. For instance, instead of just having a Millennial file customer records, you could task him or her with revamping your filing system, digitizing your records or figuring out ideas for having records completed online so you never use paper.

You can never give too much feedback. Millennials grew up getting constant reinforcement from their “helicopter parents,” so they expect continual feedback on how they’re doing in the workplace, too. This may come off as needy, but it’s essential for helping Millennials improve their performance and feel satisfied in their jobs. Consider holding reviews quarterly rather than once a year, but even that won’t be enough for Millennials—they want more frequent insights into what they’re doing right (and wrong).

Help them balance. Work-life balance is essential to job satisfaction for Millennials. Yes, they work hard, but they want to play hard, too. Consider offering perks such as flexible schedules, the ability to work remotely and comp time off after a big project is completed. (In fact, most Millennials won’t even consider these “perks,” but just the normal way to work.) Millennials also want tools that help them balance business and fun, so provide smartphones and tablets (or let them use their own). Make sure their work gets done—but when it’s done, give them their personal time. They’ll earn it. 

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