It’s sad, but true. When it comes to recruiting people who are genuine revenue-earners, senior and experienced in the industry concerned, MSMEs have a harder time than corporations. That’s because MSMEs can seldom match the salaries and perquisites that corporations can provide.
But then, when you think about it, this can also be an advantage for both MSMEs and the people they recruit for those senior revenue-earning positions. A genuinely ambitious person applying for the position could perceive a smaller organisation as one in which she or he can really make a difference. Big corporations, by and large, have employees who feel faceless. Smaller companies that fall in the MSME sector, by contrast, can give a performing employee her or his respect and due, which contributes greatly to sustained motivation.
Recruiting and hiring candidates for a senior revenue-earning position in an MSME is somewhat different than it is for corporations. Here are some tips to help you, the business owner, hire the most appropriate person for a senior position in your company.
When shortlisting candidates
- Do not shortlist candidates who are still working at large corporations. Chances are they are not seriously interested in your company because their perception of an MSME could be different, or they might assume you could not match their take-home.
- If however, a candidate from a large corporation has already left the company, you may shortlist her or him for the position. But you must speak to the person on the phone at least, and learn why she or he left the corporation.
- Do due diligence on the resumes you receive. In particular, check the references the candidate has given. This is very important. For a senior-level position, the successful candidate will have quite a high cost to company. Ensure that the candidates are exactly what they say they are.
About preliminary interviews
- If the person you are recruiting will report to you directly, it is better not to have any of your other staff members interview those candidates. You must avoid preliminary interviews and interview the person yourself. This is because the people who would normally interview the candidates before you do, will either be junior to the candidate when she or he joins the company, or at the same level. Such people conducting preliminary interviews with a senior-level candidate would not be able to ask the right questions. And such a situation could cause envy and conflict even before you have met the candidates.
Where to conduct the interview
- If the candidates are coming to your office, make sure they are greeted politely at the reception, and do not make them wait for too long. Ideally, do not make them wait at all, because you are recruiting for a senior-level position and you need to show respect.
- If the candidate is working elsewhere, especially with a competitor within your industry, then it’s better to meet her or him at a neutral place such as a restaurant or coffee shop.
How to conduct the interview
- Begin informally with small talk, so both of you can relax and build a rapport with each other. Then become formal as you get down to the business of your meeting.
- Ask the candidate to switch off her or his mobile phone. And you must do the same, and ensure that you are not interrupted during the interview so that you can really focus on the person you are speaking with.
- If there are other candidates for the position, you must tell the person you are interviewing that she or he is not the only one. In fact, you must do this even if there are no other candidates for the position, so that the person is put on her or his mettle.
- Refer to the candidate’s resume to check that what she or he has put on paper is actually what she or he is saying at the interview. This is part of due diligence.
- Of all the questions you ask, this one is the most important: 'Tell me about yourself' or 'Can you run me through your resume?' This question is a must at all interviews, from the junior-most fresher level to the senior-most CEO level. You must listen carefully to what is said, because this open-ended question will show you what the candidates are really like; what they think are the most important things about themselves. You can then gauge the priorities the candidates have, and their commitment to those priorities.
- Ask the candidates deep questions about what they have been doing in their present and previous workplaces. Co-relate what they say with your own requirements. Has the person really done that role before?
- Offer the candidates a real challenge. Present a situation that needs to be handled. Ask if the candidate has handled such a situation before, and if so, how she or he handled it. If not, how would she or he handle it? For example, how would a candidate handle a situation where marketing is a necessity, but there is a shortage of funds? See how the candidates put themselves in your shoes.
- Another important question for candidates for a senior-level position is: 'How do you see the role you will play in the company for the first six months?' This will give you an idea of what the person will actually do if she or he is hired.
- Encourage the candidate to ask questions in return. This will show you how seriously they are taking the job application, because you will be able to see if they have prepared for the interview by learning as much about your company as possible. This will also show you how the candidates will perform in the future. If they know little or nothing about your company even though they have applied for a position in your company, it shows that they are the kind of people who are not diligent about their work, and who will perform poorly on new projects.
- If the project that you are recruiting for is new to you or to him or her, ask the candidate to make a presentation at the next interview, to see how she or he will handle it.
- For a senior-level position, one interview is not enough. Do as many rounds of interviews as necessary till you are convinced that you have found the right person for the job. Remember, you are not only interviewing the candidate but she or he is also silently interviewing you.
Sharing information about your company
- If you are convinced about the candidate, and think she or he meets your requirements and will do well in their role, share as much information as possible about your company.
- If you are still not convinced, call the candidate back for another interview to see if she or he is truly a person you would want to work with.