Employees in small businesses have to wear many hats.  They have to be flexible and be willing to “pitch in” to get the job done.   Saying “that is not in my job description” or “I do not get paid enough to do that” is not usually well received.

But how does that flexibility and willingness to pitch in get quantified in a resume or application?   The answer is that it cannot.  It has to be gleaned during the interview process, and the best way to do this is through the use of behavioral interviews.

Behavioral interviewing requires the candidate to answer questions with tangible, real-life examples of how they have/would have handled specific circumstances.  The underlying basis for behavioral interviewing is that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  But most small business owners are not hiring experts, and behavioral interviewing is not easy; it takes time to master.

So here are some helpful hints that you can use to help you in the process of mastering behavioral interviewing.

  • Before you even post a job opening, take some time to identify the talents that are needed for exemplary performance in the job.  Don’t just list tasks that the candidate will have to perform; think of the intangible qualities that the candidate will have to possess.  If this step is not completed, then the entire process will crumble.  Just because a candidate has done the job before in a different environment, does not mean that the candidate will do the job well in your environment.
  • Select questions that closely mirror situations that the candidate may encounter while working for you.  You should not ask a candidate how they would handle an irate customer if you are interviewing for an inventory control specialist.
  • Do not walk the candidate through their resume.  In addition, forgo the standard, cliché-ish questions such as “where do you see yourself in five years?”  Pick interview questions that force the candidate to think, analyze quickly and discuss how they have handled specific work-related situations.  Perfect (albeit generic) questions include:
    • Describe a decision you made that was not popular and how handled the push-back.
    • Tell me about a situation where you have worked effectively under pressure.
    • Have you ever worked in a situation where the instructions were not clear?  Tell me about that.  How did you react and handle the situation?
    • When is the last time you had a disagreement with a peer?  How did you resolve the situation?

Hire them if, during their interview, they show you that they have 1) had a pattern of making intelligent decisions with limited information in a positive manner, 2)shown effectiveness in handling tough problems 3) success in working with ambiguity and dealing with conflict .

Even though the interview takes more time, you will save in the long term because this method reduces turnover and allows you to find your best-fit employee. Quality employees are crucial for small businesses.  Small businesses depend on their employees to perform services, manufacture/distribute products on time or sell/manage customer relationships.  So hiring the right people is crucial.

Snelling is here to help.  We have over 60 years of experience in finding the best-fit candidates for our clients.  We are experts in all aspects of candidate sourcing, screening and selection.  If you are looking for a partner to help you with your hiring process, trust Snelling to deliver the People + you need to make your business hum.  Visit our website to find your local office, where our knowledgeable staff can work with you to find the best-fit candidate for your company.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available. 

This article has 4 comments

  1. Patty Crenshaw Reply

    Mr. Allen I truly enjoyed this article since I am currently in a job search.
    While speaking with an HR Recruiter the other day when I asked about the culture of the bank, she replied “it’s a matrix organizational enviornment”. I was too embarassed to let on that I did not know what that entailed. Can you explain? I have a phone interview in 24 hrs and google was a little helpful. I have heard of the Hay Study Consultants but was taken aback a little. If you can shed some light on the subject I would appreciate it. “Snelling Staffing” in Chicago has good postings but, I never get called. I have over 15 yrs of Administrative Assistant experience, can you help with my paper work getting looked at as well?

    Thanks
    Patty C.

    • Christiane Soto Reply

      Thank you for your response. A matrix structure within a company is simply one where a worker has two reporting supervisors – one primary (also known as “solid line”) and one secondary (also known as “dotted line”). It is commonly seen in project management and finance jobs, but is also found in IT and high-tech firms.

      In regards to your comment on the Snelling office in Chicago, we have approximately 5 offices in the Chicago area. Which one are you referring to specifically?

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