How to hire your first employee

So, you have been running your business for a while on your own and things seem to be going great at the moment. But you have come to the stage that you can’t handle everything all by yourself and you feel the need to take on your first member of staff. Obviously, this isn’t a decision which you should be entering into lightly as this person will be partly responsible for the success or failure of the company that you have worked so hard to build. Here is some useful guidance on hiring your first employee.

Hire Based on Potential

It is unlikely that you will be paying your first employee a huge salary straight away, meaning that you should be hiring based on potential and not just their previous track record. Look for staff whose values, causes, and missions match your own. The ability to learn quickly, coupled with ambition and enthusiasm can end up going a long way towards the success of your first hire.

Conduct All Necessary Checks

Don’t just assume that everyone says who they say they are. You don’t want to find out that the individual has been dishonest with you about some important information. The first and most obvious checks that you can make are reference checks. But if you want to go into further detail, you could always look at conducting some employee background checks. You may well end up being glad that you were so thorough.

Ask Them to Demonstrate Skill

The problem with interviews is that the questions can be prepared for relatively easily. You aren’t going to learn anything when someone is reeling off a stock response which they have memorised online. You can learn more by setting an assignment to your candidates. It may just be that you want to learn about the ways in which they respond to a pressurised situation rather than focusing on the results of the test.

Prioritise Your Legal Responsibilities

You should be making sure that you are doing things by the book as much as possible. Otherwise, you could end up finding yourself in some legal hot water, which is the last thing that any business needs – especially a recently established one. You need to have a clear contract in place which details the job which is expected of the employee, and your own responsibilities towards them. This way, you have the peace of mind that everything is being done above board.

Design a Training Program

It can be strange for your first employee when they are the only one working there, but the type of culture that you create now can end up defining your business in the long-run. Therefore, you should design and implement a thorough training program which gets them up to speed with the job that is expected of them. Even if this is only casual at first, it should certainly become more structured as your organisation continues to grow.

Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".

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