I clearly remember hiring my first employee. The memory is so clear because I hired her and fired her on the same day. I’ve since hired a lot of employees. Thankfully, most of my other hiring experiences were more successful than that first one. Along the way, I’ve learned how important a solid set of small business hiring practices can be. You can’t skimp or take shortcuts when hiring and expect to #1. Determine the most important skills Before you even post a job description or hang up a “now hiring” sign, you need to figure out what qualities you want your future employee to have. You should not search for a jack-of-all-trades; that simply isn’t realistic. Write down exactly what the employee will do at your business. What skills or certifications must they have? What skills are desirable but not necessary for the job? What things could the worker learn on the job? Once you figure out which skills are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves, you can focus during the hiring process. And, hopefully, you make a better hire because you know what you want. #2. Interview each candidate Before hiring employees, interview them. This tip might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s not. I can speak from experience. Remember that first employee that I hired and fired on the same day? I didn’t interview her. I called the local trade school and asked them to send me someone to do clerical work. I just wanted the work done. I didn’t think to ask her about her skills or experience. That was a mistake. I should have interviewed her. She wasn’t able to do the job, which is why I had to fire her on her first day. Learn from my mistakes! Effective hiring practices will always include an interview with your candidate. You might find out that the candidate isn’t a good fit. #3. Learn some background After you interview your candidates, you should try to gather additional information about them. Not everyone is honest. They could have something lurking in their past that might make them a bad fit for your business. Get references from your candidates. Talk to the references and learn their opinion on the candidates. Find out if the candidates really did the things they say they did. Investigate their educational histories. Determine if the candidates actually have the degrees or certifications they claim to hold. Once you extend an offer of employment, conduct a background check. See if there are any adverse findings that might affect the person’s ability to do the job. Hiring employees for your small business is only useful if they are who they say they are. By gathering background on your potential employees, you can weed out the misfits. #4. Get a second opinion You might think a candidate is a good fit, but other people might disagree with you. If you can, get multiple opinions on a candidate. Have your business partner or other employees interview the person. When other people interview the candidate, you can see if the person is a good cultural fit. Have employees who will work closely with the new employee give input on the candidate’s qualifications. Ensuring that a candidate will get along with their new team can also enforce employee retention best practices at your company. Depending on how small your company is, this small business hiring practice may or may not work. If you are hiring your first employee, you obviously cannot get a second opinion from other employees at your business. #5. Have something to offer This is one of the most important hiring tips for small business owners: you have to give something to attract great employees. You need to offer competitive pay and small business employee benefits. If you don’t, candidates will seek out another business that will. At small businesses, the budget is often tight, especially at newer businesses. It can be tempting to give workers lower wages and few benefits to save some money. But, small business employees want adequate compensation, too. According to recent recruiting trends, we’re currently in a candidates’ market. That means candidates have more job options, and employers need to do more to attract candidates. If you want to hire the best people, you have to offer desirable incentives to work at your business. #6. Don’t take a long time The average interview process in the U.S. is 23 days. That’s 23 days the candidates are antsy and ready to start a job. People often apply to more than one place at a time. So, the longer you take to choose an employee, the more time there is for you to miss out on the best candidates. If you act too slowly, the applicants will take jobs at businesses that act faster. Not only do you lose candidates, but you also lose productivity in the workplace because your attention is still on the hiring process. You need to remove any wasted time or unnecessary items from your hiring process. Think about what you can cut out. However, don’t rush your hiring decision. You want to make the best choice. Find a balance between speed and thoroughness that allows you to hire the best employees. #7. Choose carefully Small business hiring is not something you should do haphazardly. You must make your decision carefully. A bad hiring decision can blow up—literally. I once hired an employee who was supposed to clean chemical-soaked rags. We told him that the rags needed to line dry. We explained that if the rags went near a flame, even the small pilot light of a dryer, the chemicals would cause an explosion. So, what did the employee do? He put the rags in a gas dryer at a laundromat. Nothing makes you rethink your hiring decisions quite like watching a laundromat burn down because of an employee who didn’t listen. Odds are, something that extreme won’t happen to you. But, making a poor hiring choice can cost you time and money. You might need to pay for repairs from the employee’s mistakes. And, employee turnover costs you money and time. If you do make a bad choice, you can correct your mistake. You can move the employee to a different position. Or, if the employee is a really bad fit for the position and keeps making mistakes, don’t be afraid to fire them. No one wants to fire someone else, but sometimes it must be done. Do some research on how to legally fire an employee before you move forward. Hopefully, you won’t pick a bad employee. You have these seven hiring tips for employers to guide you. Just follow the tips, choose carefully, and listen to your gut.