In our previous post, we provided an introduction to hiring and recruiting your first employees as a new entrepreneur, and reviewed the unfortunate reality of how expensive it can be to actually employ someone. Hiring your first employee can either be a pivotal moment in the history of your business or an expensive and messy disaster, and whether you end up with the former rather than the latter largely depends on the effort you put into hiring and recruitment. Once you’ve determined that you can actually afford to hire your first employee, the next steps involve understanding the “dos and don’ts” of hiring and employing individuals and following the tricks and tips to finding, recruiting, and retaining the best caliber of employee you can find.

At-Will Employment

In the state of Colorado and the vast majority of other states, employment is of an “at-will” nature. While the definition can be somewhat complicated and limited exceptions exist in rare circumstances, employees who are not bound by an employment contract can either be terminated by their employer or they themselves can resign from employment at any time, with or without prior notice. Employers can easily create a nightmarish legal situation if a contract of employment is either overtly extended to the employee or implied in some way that’s documentable. Therefore, you must never tell or even imply in some way that you are extending a contract of employment to an employee in any step of the process without fully understanding the consequences of doing so.

Protected Classes

In addition to establishing and maintaining an at-will hiring status, employers must also be aware of the existence of protected classes of individuals. You are barred by federal and sometimes state law from discriminating against an individual based on protected classes. Regardless of whether or not you may be exempt from federal or state law based on the size of your company or workforce, it is a good idea to understand and adapt both federal and state laws to your hiring methods from the offset. This can help shield your company from civil and regulatory liability both now and as your company continues to grow. It is also simply the right thing to do.

Learn As Much As You Can From Other Sources

Now that you know that you can afford to hire your first employee and have a rudimentary understanding of what you should and shouldn’t do when hiring, it’s time to begin preparing and planning the recruitment and hiring process. This involves advertising your new job, collecting resumes and contact information from prospective recruits, interviewing and, ultimately, extending an offer of employment to one lucky individual. There are established and reliable methods when it comes to recruiting and hiring professionals, so avoid spending time, money, and resources trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, focus on what other companies are doing, especially your competitors, and adapt as much as you can to your own process.

Preparing A Job Ad Yourself

There are two ways you can approach this process when you’re a new entrepreneur: if you can afford it, you can choose to hire a recruiting firm to handle the process for you, or you can do much of it yourself. If you choose to do the latter, then the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to prepare a job ad and interview questions is to research as much as you can online. When preparing the copy for a job ad, research other job ads you find online to get a feel for what other companies are seeking for in qualified candidates and the benefits and opportunities they are willing to offer in return. Never plagiarize another job ad, but begin to document common phrases, terms, and patterns you observe in other ads. It is a good idea to read as many ads as you can that are seeking candidates in your city or state, as ads from other states may include regulatory language or terms of employment that don’t apply to your company or state. It is also a good idea to review ads in your own industry simply because these other employers are competing against you to hire the best talent, and it’s important to know exactly what they are offering and requiring of potential candidates.

Ask The Right Questions The Right Way

While you may be unable to find a list of interview questions that your competitors are using in their own recruitment process, it is relatively easy to find generalized interview questions that you can adapt when it’s time to interview candidates. As we previously mentioned, you must ensure that the questions you ask do not overtly or inadvertently lead to a candidate revealing personal information related to a protected class, as that will then leave you open to accusations of bias in your hiring process. Instead, ask open-ended questions that allow a candidate to reveal how they’ve both achieved and grown as a professional and addressed challenging situations in previous jobs and extracurricular activities.