Six Tricks to Hiring Entrepreneurial Employees

This post is part of The PR Channel’s “Guest Blogger Series” featuring insights from Austin-area entrepreneurs and business leaders in areas complementary to PR (including marketing, sales, graphic design, web development and more).

By David J. Neff

Hey new entrepreneur! How are you feeling today? Nervous?! I hear you. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows in your world. Especially if the problem you’re facing is hiring employees number two and three (with you being employee number one). Who to hire is a tough question we all face in our lives. From the guy who fixes your roof to the woman who prepares your taxes. It’s even more nerve racking when you hire someone to work directly for you in your new business. The question I hear most is do I hire a worker bee or an entrepreneur like me?

I’m here to say you want a entrepreneur like you!

In my book “The Future of Nonprofits: Thrive and Innovate in the Digital Age” (read the book review by The PR Channel’s Andrea Schulle) we talk about two ways of testing potential candidates in the hiring process. For the sake of space in my blog post, here is the first of the two.

Ask Them Direct Questions

Seems simple huh? But really do it. Actually include a question on being innovative and entrepreneurial as a part of all standard questions you ask the candidates. Even the lowest paying position at your business should have a shot to be in a leadership position someday. So test them. Ask them tough questions – not just the easy ones about how they handle sales and marketing, and working weekends. Ask them what the hardest thing was at their old/current job and how they innovated to solve the problem? Did they research, brainstorm with others, meditate about it? If they hem and haw you may want to add them to the skip list.

Here are a few sample questions to get you started:

  1. We have been asked questions about innovation and entrepreneurship in job interviews, and have asked them of candidates as well. Some  samples include: Tell me about your favorite piece of technology from Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, or some other science fiction property–even a video game! Then ask why and when  (or why not) they think it will be a reality.
  2. Ask about the coolest new technology or software development they heard about in the news recently. This tests their interest in current affairs and awareness of technology developments.
  3. Inquire if they ever started their own business, started a book, or even a blog.
  4. Also ask them about their favorite thing to do on the Internet–and then ask them to give two suggestions to make that experience better.
  5. Inquire about a failed project from their work history and what they learned from the experience. Follow up by asking for a tangible example of how they used what the learned in another project.
  6. Look for eagerness to take on accountability and drive something new that they can call their own. Ask them how they would design a project development program and listen for hints of entrepreneurship and rule breaking.

Are you ready to do this? If it seems daunting, but don’t let it be. Simply print this out and have it in your notes when you interview candidates over the phone. In the end we can almost promise that you will get the right people to help you grow your small business. To learn our other tips on hiring the right people (and managing) them please watch our interviews and read exerpts of “The Future of Nonprofits : Thrive and Innovate in the Digital Age” at www.thefutureofnonprofits.com.

David J. Neff is an Author, Teacher, Speaker, Blogger, Network Weaver, and Social Media Scientist.


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