Hiring the Right Employees: A Simple Check List

Jun 19, 2012, Written by Sue Miley

Hiring employees is as much an art as it is a science.  There are technical factors involved and then there is intuition.  To me, intuition when hiring employees is where the art comes in.

As a small business hiring the right employees is so important.  Think about it….

  • it is usually double digit percentages of your work force…I am going from 3 on our team to 4…number 4 is 25% of our team.
  • finding the right person is so difficult when you have a need and then you have the constant pressure on top of it of the work not getting done.
  • or you are doing all of the extra work so you don’t have time to find the next “right” person for your team much less a person for your team.
  • whoever you find to hire usually someone on the team has an issue with it
  • the cost to hire a new employee is high….for ads….in your time spent reading resumes, interviewing, and hiring…
  • the stress to make it a good hire is high too

So here you are overworked, a hole to be filled, and the understanding that adding people to your team is just about your most important activity.

Are you feeling the pressure?

I am.

But we can do this.  We can get better at it.  As stressful as the consequences of a bad hire are, the benefits of a good hire are just as great.

I have written about teams before.  They can look different for every small business.  The key is not to have a cookie cutter team, but to have one that matches your culture and your needs.

Here is a simple checklist of things to consider/do when hiring an employee:

  • Make sure they can and have actually done the work.   A common mistake is when the small business owner lists all of the requirements of the job and then asks the closed ended question “Can you do this or that?”  All the candidate needs to say is “yes” and that is usually good enough for the business owner.  To really know if a candidate is qualified you need to ask for examples and explanations of their skills.  Ask open ended questions that directly target their ability to do the work.
  • Listen more than you talk.  As an entrepreneur we are sometimes really proud of our business and accomplishments.  We spend most of the interview telling about how great we are rather than finding out how great they are.  Or, if we are really stressed, we may spend a large amount of time discussing all of our issues, but never finding out if the candidate is really a solution to the issues.  We see the candidate nodding their head as we talk and we just feel like they understand.  It is also, the only way that we can find out if the employee shares our Christian values.  We may not be able to ask specific questions in regards to religion, but good values also happen to be Christian.  We need to learn about their values.  Therefore, we need to check ourselves.  If we have been doing more talking than listening, chances are we have not found out enough about the candidate.
  • Make sure the candidate is someone you would enjoy working with.  I am not saying it needs to be someone you would be personal friends with, however, you can tell if you connect with someone.  Even if it is just on a professional level.  If you don’t want to spend 30 minutes with the employee working on a problem, don’t hire them.  Don’t laugh, but many times I hear from business owners, “I don’t want to have to discuss that with so and so, they make me uptight.”  It’s your business.  Don’t hire someone who may make you uptight….even if they are super qualified!
  • Let your team meet the person.  I am not saying to abdicate the decision to others.  However, it is good to know if other key team members, who will work closely with the person, feel good about the hire too.  You start off with everyone working to assimilate the new hire into the team and help them to succeed.
  • Check references and background as applicable.  Do you know that most small business owners don’t check references.  Everyone says “you never find anything out anyway” or “we didn’t have time”.  Yet, almost every time we check references for our clients we find things out.  It is valuable information.  It doesn’t mean you don’t hire the person.  It does mean you have a more informed decision when you do.
  • Set them up for success.  This can look different in every business, but you know when someone is floundering.  You are the owner of the business.  It is your job to make sure a new team member is successful.  This may be training.  This may be truly understanding their job responsibilities.  It could just be feeling comfortable and knowing how to navigate their new place of employment.  They need to know what is expected of them and how to get into the routine of their job.  There is nothing worse than starting a job with no direction and sitting around under-productive and feeling uncomfortable.

There are lot’s of other things you can do, but this checklist is the foundational things that make for a good hire.  Study them.  Check them off as you go.

It is more than worth it to make sure you have a good hire.  I mean, think of the alternative…you will have to go through the whole process again if it isn’t!


Hire Power is a resource for Christian small business owners.  It is a guide to recruiting, hiring and managing people you can trust.  For details, click here.

Reader Interactions


  1. David Rupert says

    There is nothing more stressful that changing the mix of your team, especially the small one.

    I have always picked attitude over experience. I figure having a willing employee is better than someone with a bunch of expereince and not a good spirit

  2. Deidra says

    Many good points here. I just passed this along to my husband who is looking for a new church secretary and assistant to the pastor. Thanks for these insights.

  3. Sandra Harriette says

    I needed this article. I had this incredible dream last night about a new team member I was about to interview. It was as if I had known her all my life, I can’t really describe it.

    When we talked earlier today, we were actually having a conversation. Yeah, we covered the business, but we were also able to relate on so many topics. I hung up after 30 minutes, somewhat astounded by the vision that had foretold it.

    We are in a predicament now of not wanting to disappoint all the other candidates, several of which are also good matches. I ultimately want to make the right decision for both me and my boss. There are so many factors to weigh, it’s incredible.

    • S_Miley says

      Sandra, Sometimes we can go through all of the right steps and check off everything on the list and intuition is still the biggest factor!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

Related Posts

you are replaceable at work

“You are replaceable”

By Chad Schoonmaker | November 28, 2023

We were sitting in a boardroom at an oversized conference table with the entire marketing department in the room. It was a weekly marketing meeting. […]

Read More
small business owners vacation

How Much Time Off Should Small Business Owners Take

By Sue Miley | November 20, 2023

As Thanksgiving approaches, like many small business owners, I find myself in a mad rush to complete tasks so I can take most of the […]

Read More
How To Manage Stress At Work

How To Manage Stress At Work? Where Does Your Anxiety Come From and How To Reduce It

By Jim Miley | October 26, 2023

Building a business is hard work. Whether you start from nothing or take over a large team, there are headwinds, rough seas, and obstacles you […]

Read More