As the COO and a co-founder of After School, a large part of my job is making hiring decisions. It’s one of many responsibilities, but there’s nothing more important to the success of our company than the strength of our team, which makes every interview an opportunity to improve our business.
When we first started to grow our team (back in 2011), we asked about a prospect’s work history, how they felt they would fit in with our team and how they would solve specific problems. But, we weren’t listening and asking to really get to know them as a person. We didn’t understand whether their wants, needs, skills and passion fit our company and available position.
Over time, we adapted our interview process to get to know the candidate and learn what they wanted out of a job instead of trying to sell them on the position we had available.
Related: The Key To Hiring The Best Employees
Here are some of the most important questions we ask:
1What’s your dream job?
Asking someone about their dream job helps test the potential fit right at the start and lets you know what they want out of a job.
2What do you like to do for fun?
Not all questions in an interview need to be directly related to the position you’re hiring for. Our team takes regular activity breaks together, and although we work hard, we have fun together as well.
3What did you like and dislike about your last job?
Asking what someone loved and hated about their last job is pretty simple, but it provides great insight into what type of job fits with their skillset and preferences.
4What was the culture like at your last job?
We place a lot of importance in our culture. Similar to how learning the likes and dislikes of a potential new hire provides insight into someone’s preferences, asking about the culture at their previous workplace gives us insight into how that company operates and what aspects of that culture attracted them to our opening.
5What would you have changed about the company you worked for last?
Anyone can point out what they like and dislike about a job, but it takes someone with problem-solving skills to provide a plan to fix what’s wrong around them. This question also helps us improve our company by understanding what potential employees disliked about their previous workplace.
These questions all focus on the prospect, not the opening, and hopefully dig into their work ethic, work preferences and goals – knowing more about each candidate makes it more likely you’ll pick the right one.
For example, we offer flexible work hours, meaning we let night owls crush it when they are at their best, but certain positions come with responsibilities that require a candidate to be available during specific times of the day. If someone says they want to come in at ten and leave work at four every single day when applying for a position that requires them to be flexible and work at night when necessary, they probably aren’t the right fit for this position. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s another piece of information that helps our decision making.
When it comes to receiving important information for any area of your business, you need to embrace the mindset of a reporter or detective. The smallest clue can give your business an advantage, and the best way to do this is through listening.
Listen to what your employees are telling you – whether it’s ideas, concerns or their thoughts. Understanding your employees and knowing who they are as people will allow you to run your company more efficiently.
Before your next interview, create a list of five questions you think will reveal the right and wrong candidate based on how a prospective hire will respond. These will be tweaked based on the position you’re hiring for and as you start seeing the results. So, listen carefully and ask good questions before you worry about the message you’re sending by speaking.
What you learn and what you say afterwards will be more than worth the wait.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
When To Hire A Consultant
Good consultants are expensive but their worth the money if you do your part.
Hiring a business consultant is costly enough without hiring the wrong one.
There will be a time when you and your business will face the need for outside consulting and help. It might be market information you need, or advice, skills, strategies and techniques that don’t exist in your organisation.
Consultants can provide solutions for a huge range of business issues. Different types of consultants bring different ideas to the table but you need to know when and why to use them.
In general, a business consultant works with you on strategy, planning and problem-solving. They might help you develop a business skill and grow knowledge. You might need to learn how to design a business model, create a marketing plan or determine which marketing techniques you need to use and how to use them.
Consultants come in many forms. A lot of people are familiar with the big players like PWC, (PricewaterhouseCoopers), Deloitte, Ernst & Young or KPMG but there are many, many other firms as well as individuals.
Firms, especially the big ones, do not share their fee structure. Fees are considered a trade secret that is kept under tight control. In addition, fees vary per region, client, service, etc. With that said, fees for the big firms have been reported to start around $3,200 to over $6,600 per hour. And in a survey of individual consultants completed in 2017 by Consulting Success, 14 percent of consultants made more than $50,000 per project fee.
Consultants fall into five categories:
1. Strategy and Management Consultants
These firms or individuals will have a deep understanding of your specific market and know best practices of your industry.
They can offer help in enlarging your market footprint, expand your product offerings, help you reorganise for efficiency and cost savings, increase your company’s capabilities or help you make a large equipment purchase or even buyout another company.
2. Operations Consultants
These companies focus on increasing your process quality and efficiencies. You might use them when you are looking to map out existing processes, analyse them and get suggestions/advice to improve quality, reduce steps or mistakes and increase margins and decrease costs.
3. IT Consultants
Probably the biggest growth area in consulting right now. With the rapid pace of technology and tech support needed, most companies have hired a consultant at some point to help integrate and improve their computer or phone systems or storage space, upgrade servers, etc.
4. Human Resources Consultants
These businesses are used to work specifically on employee needs. You might use them to recruit top talent, improve employee retention and determine compensation to align with your company goals. You might use them for leadership and communication development.
5. Sales & Marketing Consultants
Firms in this area are used to create marketing plans, work on positioning statements, develop a brand, launch advertising campaigns, establish social media strategies, initiate sales process and improvement, or design sales training and coaching.
So why would you ever hire someone from one of these categories?
Expertise: You might not have the internal resources or skill set within your company to tackle your project, goal or what you want to accomplish. Using a consultant or power player within your industry might pay big rewards.
Seasoned change agent: Navigating office politics and taking the blame for reducing headcount or other cost-cutting measures, consultants are change agent experts and can act as that outside voice to break up the roadblocks and make things happen.
Process improvement: Your consultant will be an expert or even a leading expert in their field and have years of experience in what you are attempting to solve for the first time. Why try to invent a best practice when a consultant has probably already implemented it multiple times?
Idea generator: A consultant can bring a fresh perspective to your business that you might not have. They can see the bigger picture of the market and where your company fits into it by being an outsider. The insights they have can boost your internal team to new ways of thinking and approaching problems.
Trainer: By the nature of the job a consultant does, they are natural trainers. Their job is to share their knowledge, insight, and experience. They would be a good choice to do a training course, presentation or do one-on-one or team coaching.
Consultants are a good resource but one of the biggest drawbacks can be making sure the use of one results in actionable, observable outcomes that you can clearly see impact your profits and bottom line.
Too many times a consultant might give you a strategy and blueprint on how to make it happen but there is no follow through on making sure it’s implemented, followed and that results are tracked.
This isn’t necessarily the consultant’s fault. They may have been hired to only do the setup and certain tasks. Consulting can also be very expensive and take a long time. Large companies can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and have nothing to show for it after nearly a year.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
4 Benefits Of Business Process Outsourcing For Small Businesses
Using data outsourcing has many benefits for your small business and is something you need to consider should you want to improve and make your company more efficient.
When starting a business, you don’t always estimate the amount of work and skills needed to operate and manage your business efficiently. But that’s where business process outsourcing (BPO) comes in handy, and can save many startups from going under before they’ve barely begun making waves in the market.
Take a look at your small business. Are you constantly searching for qualified and experienced people to undertake tasks but never having the funds to employ and fill all the necessary roles? Do you find that most of your time, as manager, is spent on administrative tasks that don’t directly contribute to any of your company’s goals?
The way you’re going to save your business and grow it at the rate you initially projected, will be by outsourcing these activities to computer and data processing services who can overlook those details while you attend to your business. Using data outsourcing has many benefits for your small business and is something you need to consider should you want to improve and make your company more efficient.
1. Rely on the professionals
One benefit of using data and form processing services is that you can rely on the professionals to get the job done. Their business is to monitor, process and report on the processes of your business that you entrust to them. And you won’t have to worry about hiring and training a whole new team or spending countless hours on those mundane tasks. Data processing, marketing or accounting is their speciality and they know exactly what they’re doing.
And the best part is that there are a variety of business processes that can be outsourced.
2. Save time on most business processes
A great benefit of BPO is that you will no longer be responsible for the tasks you didn’t necessarily sign up for when you started the business. This means you can take every minute saved by outsourcing to develop the areas of the business that made you start up in the first place.
Different department functions that can be outsourced include:
- Human resources: The hiring process can be a long and draining one. Outsourcing your human resources means there are other people responsible for filtering through hundreds of CVs and applicants based on what you’re looking for through a series of high-quality-candidate databases. All you’ll need to worry about is the final interview and meeting.
- Marketing: Understanding your target audience is important in business. And marketing is the tool that allows you to engage, manage your brand reputation, acquire new customers and maintain your current client relationships. But if you aren’t a marketing firm, there’s a chance you’ll miss these ROI opportunities, which is where outsourcing would be the best option.
- Customer service: Not many small businesses can afford to operate and set up a 24/7 call centre within their offices. Outsourcing call centres to manage your customer support is more common than you may think and will save you the effort and resources of creating a new department in your company.
- Finances: You business’ finances are arguably the most important asset that needs to be tracked and managed. We can’t all be financiers and since finance is so important in business, outsourcing your business finances is advisable. You won’t find yourself spending more than you can afford, you won’t have to worry about payroll, tax preparation or any accounting activities. Your financial BPO will take care of it all and you can stick with what you know best about business.
By making use of business process outsourcing, you’re allowing yourself and your employees the opportunity to hone in on the skills you already have instead of trying to find time to learn new ones that aren’t related to your everyday job description. This will also allow your company to become more efficient in its industry as the focus will be solely on the business’ product or service offering.
3. Reduce operation costs
The reason why small and large businesses choose to outsource business processes is the opportunity to reduce operating costs. Also, it’s incredibly convenient and stress-relieving to not have to try and do a job you don’t quite understand and aren’t qualified to do.
BPO reduces operating costs as you won’t have to spend money on new employees, employee training or the equipment and software to carry out those tasks. You will also be saving yourself time on tasks that don’t need to be done in the office. That time can then be put into business-focused activities that can make your company more efficient in the product or service it offers customers.
4. A competitive edge
Having the extra time to focus on the real work your business does, will give you a competitive edge. And not only in the industry of small businesses. Having the resources to make your business products efficient and the best on the market has the potential to make you a competitor amongst larger businesses.
By choosing the right BPO companies, your business will also be operating with the latest technology and software – without you having to pay extra for it. This is an edge above most small business who attempt to do everything on their own before they’ve established the necessary profit margins to make those upgrades and remain consistent in their development.
These are just four of the many benefits of BPO. Make the smart business decision and use BPO to your advantage. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to build your company and witness exponential growth.
How Your Company Can Easily Attract Fresh Talent
Well, there are many ways to go about attracting fresh talent, the easiest of which are…
The minds that are walking out of university these days have so much potential and power which many companies are longing for. Fresh new minds that are eager to start working and applying themselves in the “real” world. The best interests of your company lie in attracting this fresh batch of millennial talent. So how exactly could you do that?
Provide opportunities to learn
Millennials are after experience and career growth. They want to know that the company they will be working for is prioritising that journey. And what better way to encourage them on their career path than providing learning opportunities within the business?
A few of the main ways companies provide their employees with opportunities to learn are through internships, learnerships and mentorships.
- Internships: An internship is like a pre-entry level position where interns have an opportunity to learn the ropes and figure out if this is, in fact, the industry or career they want to be building a career in. This is an extremely valuable and appreciated opportunity for most graduates and a way for companies to easily spot talent. If both parties are happy with how the internship has been carried out, all the employer needs to do is offer up a permanent post.
- Learnerships: What is a learnership? And what are the benefits of a learnership in a company? A learnership is an educational training programme that companies offer to employees which allows them to gain work experience while learning industry-relevant theory. It’s more than a basic internship as learnership jobs can lead to a registered NQF qualification. This is beneficial to the company as they can be certain that all their employees are equally knowledgeable about their work and millennial applications will be flooding in for the opportunity to add further education and experience to their CVs through this opportunity.
- Mentorships: Fresh minds are still newbies in the business and want to know that they’ll be taught (not spoon fed). This is where companies can offer mentorships that new employees can work with seasoned employees to gain business tips and insights that will help them become better. This is what graduates are looking for, an opportunity to learn from the best in order to be the best.
Be an innovative environment
You can’t expect to attract fresh minds and creative talents when your company lacks an innovative environment. People want to know that they will be challenged and inspired every day by their work environment. And it’s not about working overtime to keep your new employees stimulated, but about making sure they have the resources, creative team members and freedom to think outside of the box.
They need to know that their innovation will be encouraged and supported. When advertising for vacancies, don’t be afraid to mention some of the innovative projects you’ve done. It will definitely excite any innovative minds on the job-hunt and those are the types of people you need to elevate your company.
Provide flexible work schedules
Flexibility is the work-trend at the moment and young people are looking for flexibility from their jobs. Being flexible with your work schedules is in your company’s best interest for more reasons than just the talent you’ll be attracting:
- Discourage the turnover rate of employees as they will have an increase in employee satisfaction.
- Increase in productivity from punctual and purposeful employees.
- And there will be an opportunity for extended business hours to increase customer satisfaction.
If you offer and implement it in the right way, flexible working hours are probably the easiest way to retain current and attract new talent to your company.
Be digitally relevant
Having the latest technology and digitally-advanced business processes shows new talent that you’re all about adapting to the constantly changing environment. They will want to work for you because this strive for relevance means they will constantly have opportunities to improve and find new ways of taking the company and industry forward.
Start by improving your office processes and being more digitally savvy. The more “ancient” your ways of doing things, the less fresh talent you’ll attract. People don’t want to sit and struggle through admin when their time could be spent on something more useful and relevant to the current era.
By making the most of technology, it also shows that your company chooses to be “green” with how they conduct business. And being part of a “save the planet” movement while doing your day job is what most young people strive to do these days.
Every company can easily attract fresh talent by implementing the above practices. And the resources that are spent is nothing compared to the revenue these new minds can potentially bring in by being part of your company.
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