How do I hire my first employee?

It is an exciting time when you realise that your small business, begun as a part time home working opportunity needs to take on staff.

It is an exciting time when you realise that your small business, begun as a part time home working opportunity needs to take on staff. Many businesses in this position begin by hiring family and friends and can go along for quite a while like this, whereas others don’t have that luxury and the company director or sole trader has to take the plunge and advertise for staff. There are large numbers of legal requirements when it comes to hiring people and you should take advice to make sure that you have them all clear in your mind before you begin. When it comes to interviewing prospective employees, you should be careful not to be swayed from your goal of finding the perfect person to help your business prosper.

There are also certain legal requirements in choosing staff. You are not allowed by law to discriminate against any person by reason of race, gender, age or religion. It is unlikely that you would do so, but you must be sure that in the case of anyone accusing you of such discrimination that you can answer the charge as it can be quite serious if you are found to have done so.

When you advertise for staff it is best if you are quite specific in listing the kind of person you need. With so many people chasing each job at the moment, you will find that you will have lots of applications and many of them will be from unsuitable candidates. By specifying very exactly what you are expecting from the successful applicant, you will be able to tell from the application letters whether they have that particular skill; if they simply say they can do whatever it is you need without backup, the chances are that they are not the person for you. If they skirt round the matter, the same applies. If they list what you need with corroborating employment history, then they should be interviewed.

Think about what your requirements are and be prepared to think creatively. For instance, you might need PR help, but not necessarily full time. You might be able to get a very experienced PR person who is a working mum and is looking for flexible work. They may then be able to do the job that a less experienced person would take longer to do and might be able to increase their hours as the business and their children grow.

Before you interview anyone you should make sure that you are clear about what you can offer. Some people ask at interview what possibility for promotion, extra hours or so forth might be on offer in the future. It is unfair to make unlikely claims – if your business has reached its limit for growth or if you are not planning any expansion which would give any room for manoeuvre on hours or conditions, you should say so honestly. Don’t get involved in long discussions in interviews. Stick to the points of finding out whether this person can help you grow your business, make sure that the person in front of you seems to be the same one as in the reference – some employers don’t hesitate to give ‘golden references’ to get rid of a troublesome employee, so in the final analysis, go with your gut feeling. You are the one who has to work with the person – if you don’t like them at interview, no one will be happy. You became self employed to be your own boss – you get to choose who you employ.

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