A Guide to Employing Executive Staff

In a small business, hiring your first member of staff is an important step which some first time entrepreneurs approach with trepidation. Once that first time is under your belt you become more confident, and might even get blasé about. But how much more difficult it is when you want to bring in a number two or a finance or marketing director. You want people with skills to complement your own, and you may be way out of your comfort zone.

The Planning Stage

Because these are crucial roles, you need to get it right from the word go. It's therefore important to plan how to go about the recruitment process, know what you want to find out and how you will approach it well before you start.

First you need a succinct job description, so take your time over it if at all possible. Before you finalise it, do some networking. Talk to other people who do the hiring as well as people who have been hired for the type of role you have in mind. Now you can advertise the post.

Selecting the Right Applicants

Your first experience of those who respond might be on the telephone, or more likely on paper. This will be either a CV or information from a recruitment agency. Again this stage should not be rushed as you need time to peruse and consider all the detail in front of you. Which candidates have the skills, training and experience you believe will equip them for the role? When you decide on the ones you will interview, make notes for each person to help you to probe further into what you have read.

The Interview Stages

At the first interviews you have to make judgements about whether they can do the job as well as you need. Lead them into discussing what they can bring to the role. You need to be sure that their skills will be a good fit.

From the discussion, is it clear they have done some homework to find out about you and your company? That could demonstrate the level of commitment you want. Now consider their personality. Will they fit in well with your team? Do they have the right balance of authority and willingness to listen and learn? Do you actually like them?

Sometimes there is a clear winner at this stage, but you may find you still have more than one possibility. If so, you should invite them back for another interview. You could set them a task or some homework to do in the meantime.

You could always bring a second person to join you for the interviews, if you have someone appropriate whose judgement you can rely on. It doesn't have to be an inside person. It could be a spouse or a mentor or friend, perhaps someone from your local bookkeepers. The final decision, of course, will still lie with you, but you will have the view of someone else to help you make it.

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