Ever experience the disappointment of having spent weeks training someone only to have them quit soon after?  Or, the frustration of customer complaints and negative reviews because of the shoddy work or poor manners of one of your employees? What about the fear and worry of a lawsuit against you because of (or by) a bad employee.

Even if you’ve never experienced any of the above, you know that one bad hire can cost you time, money, and in extreme cases, your entire business.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to vastly increase your chances of hiring an awesome employee.

1. Know What You Want

This might seem obvious, but to find an awesome employee you must have a clear and detailed idea of what “awesome” means to you. Yes, the employee must be capable of performing the work. But think beyond hard skills.

What are the personality traits and characteristics of your ideal employee? Whatever position you’re hiring for, you’ll want someone reliable, honest, and personable. (I tend to lean heavily on honest)

But maybe other characteristics like creative, committed, or enthusiastic rank at the top of your list. It doesn’t matter. Just know what you want.

2. Write It Up

When you know, and can articulate, what you want in an employee, write it up in “job description” style and format. It should be concise but thorough.

Make it clear to the reader what the priorities are. It should leave no doubt in the candidate’s (or recruiter’s) mind what you’re looking for and what’s most important.

3. Let the Right People Know

Posting jobs on sites like CareerBuilder.com, Job.com, and even Facebook will get you plenty of applicants. However, start by calling trusted colleagues, friends, and family. Not to recruit any of them (unless they’re a perfect fit for the job), but to let them know you’re hiring. The assumption here is that someone in your inner-circle would only recommend candidates they are certain will be awesome.

But I’ll say it again, whoever you call (family, friends, recruiters…), stress the details and priorities of what you’re looking for.

4. Interview

If you’ve done steps 1 through 3, then candidates should have a good idea of what you’re looking for prior to doing the interview. However, I suggest you go over it again. This sets the context of the questioning ahead and gets everyone on the “same page.”

There are entire books on conducting interviews so I’ll just say this:

It’s impossible to be 100% certain that a candidate is telling the truth. There are things like the Personnel Selection Inventory and the Veracity Analysis Questionnaire. However, I’ve never used them so I can’t say how useful they are.

But, you know what you want. Stick with the interviews until you find a candidate you feel is worthy of taking to the next step.

5. Dig Deeper

So, you’re done with the interviews. They said all the right things. They seemed friendly, honest, and forthcoming. And they didn’t pull a Step-Brothers on you.

Now what?

It’s time to follow-up on those references. (Yes. This is the first time I’ve mentioned anything about references.) Your job description (see Step 2) should ask that candidates provide at least three references–at least one from a former manager/supervisor.

I won’t go into the specifics of what questions to ask. But here’s a great list to get you started.

Be thorough and call all references provided. Yes, most references will be to people the candidates know will make them look good. However, per a 2012 CareerBuilder survey, 3 out of 10 employers said that they received negative feedback from a candidate’s reference. And 29% of the employers surveyed said a candidate provided a false reference!

Don’t put your business at risk by neglecting references.

6. Do a Background Check

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve done a lot toward finding your awesome employee. But doing this final step could be the thing that keeps you from losing your business.

Consider the case of one small business owner whose worker assaulted a client. The owner was sued and ended up having to close his business. A routine background check would have informed the owner of his employee’s violent criminal history.

In a survey conducted by Society for Human Resource Management, 53% of employers surveyed found that the candidate falsified information.

Fortunately, there are companies (like BackgroundChecksExpress.com) that can check for convictions and arrests, credit history, drug screening, driving record, and much more. And the cost is negligible compared to what one bad hire can cost you.

One important note. Be sure to get consent from all applicants before conducting these checks.

Don’t let your dream turn into a nightmare.

When it comes to hiring workers for your business, only settle for awesome! Because awesome employees will bring in those 5 STAR reviews. Awesome employees will allow you to take vacations in peace because you know your business is in good hands.

In a perfect world you’ll have employees who are honest, reliable, highly capable, and a joy to work with. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula to hiring outstanding workers. But following the six steps outlined above can help make your business a pleasant dream and not a terrible nightmare.

What do you think? Are your employees awesome? Share in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.

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