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Looking to Hire? Interview Advice for SME Owners

Small businesses comprise more than 99% of all private sector businesses here in the UK and, while many of those are sole traders, the number of employing businesses is on the increase.  Total employment in SMEs in Britain was 15.7 million in 2016, representing a hefty 60% of private sector employment.  While business owners will know how to manage their business, when it comes to hiring staff, many may not have had experience of the interview process so today we’ve got some advice to help business owners interview staff effectively in order to hire the right people to benefit your company.

One of the most effective methods of interviewing is behavioural interviewing, an approach based on the principle that past behaviour is the most likely indicator of future, on the job behaviour.  Behavioural interviews bring to light much more about a job candidate because they involve more engagement and deeper conversations which will allow you to gain greater insight into a prospective employee’s attitude, coping skills and decision making abilities.

Here are some effective job interview questions that you could include when interviewing candidates to work in your business:

·        How do you think your experience and skills qualify you for this position?

·        Give me an example of how you prioritize your work.

·        Tell me of a time when you came across a problem at work and tell me how you brought about a solution to this problem.

·        Tell me about your best customer service experience.

·        Describe an instance when you were required to work under pressure and how you reacted to this.

When preparing to conduct behavioural interviews it’s vital that you analyse the list of duties that the job entails and tailor your questions from this list.   It’s up to you as the interviewer to set the tone for the interview and establish a rapport that will enable each candidate to feel comfortable enough to respond fully to all of the questions.

When carrying out the interviews, make sure that you have each applicant’s resume to hand and an assessment form that you can use to keep notes of your impressions on each answer they give.  Don’t forget that the purpose of the interview is not just to learn about the candidates who apply, but also to create goodwill and a good impression of your company, whether you hire the candidate or not.

When interviewing, here are some red flags to be on the lookout for:

·        Any inconsistencies between their resume and what they are actually telling you during the interview.

·        If the candidate can’t tell you how their skills match your company’s needs.

·        If they have no idea what your company does – this demonstrates not only a lack of preparation, but a lack of initiative and flexibility too.

·        If they reveal confidential information about a former employer or talk negatively about them.


You can close the interview by asking the candidate if there is anything else they would like you to know about their skills and experience.  Always remain professional and organised when interviewing and make sure never to give any of the candidates the impression that they are either rejected for the job or a shoo-in.  Make sure that you tell the candidate when they can expect to hear from your with a decision about their application and stick with that commitment.