Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late: Three Things To Consider When Hiring


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Photo by Nathan Dumlao

“I need to hire someone, but I don’t have the time,” many new business owners say to themselves. However, the opposite is true: many new business owners don’t have time not to hire someone.

Why wait until you’re working 60 or 70 hours a week to hire someone new? By then, it may already be too late. In a desperate rush, you might onboard people who don’t work out because you didn’t have time to train them properly.

Hiring team members requires a more structured approach—emphasis on the word “team.” Before you advertise for a position with your team, you should have a detailed job description that includes duties and shift requirements. By being detailed in your expectations, you will have begun eliminating those who don’t fit your needs.

When done efficiently and correctly, the three-part interview structure detailed below will help managers make the most of their time and be prepared.

Step One: The Fifteen Minute Phone Call

Fifteen minutes is all it takes to make a first impression. Use this time to introduce yourself and cover the job description. Ask the potential team member, “Can you perform the job requirements?” A cashier needs to be attentive for a long time, and a barista needs to have basic knowledge of coffee brewing. Be honest about the job. When you change details or compromise on the job requirements because you need someone now, you begin to sabotage your business.

Photo by Nick MacMillan
Photo by Nick MacMillan

After confirming that the potential team member is capable of doing the job, schedule a time for an in-person interview. Choose a time when you can solely focus on the applicant—trying to interview while working implies to both your applicant and customers that they are not important enough for your attention.

Step Two: The 30-Minute Interview

If you’re asking the right questions, 30 minutes is all you need. Have the applicant’s resume in hand and make sure you have read it before they get there.

Meet in your office or a private room where customers and staff aren’t tempted to interfere with the interview. You should be actively interviewing—not watching the cashier or keeping tabs on the shop. 

Interview questions are an art, and they can work for you or against you. “Tell me about yourself?” is unfocused and an invitation for an applicant to spend time talking about anything from their family tree to a recent vacation. Pointed, yet still open-ended questions, in contrast, are great for allowing the applicant to think on the spot and share their true strengths and weaknesses.

Instead, try asking, “Tell me about your best boss ever,” or “Tell me about a time you made a mistake and what you did next.” Ask questions that pertain to the business, such as “How do you like your coffee?”

If their answers ring true and fit the job description, make a note to schedule a third interview. If not—or you need more time to think it over—thank the interviewee for coming in and tell them you will notify them by a set date about a third interview. 

You may have heard the term “ghosted.” Have you ever applied for a job, confident that you and the hiring manager had a bright future together? Then you notice that the listing has disappeared from the company’s website, and a new face has appeared on the café’s team? Not following up with applicants is both unprofessional and lazy. Remember, you want to retain them as customers after an interview and perhaps even hire them in the future when the right job opens up. 

Step Three: The Decision Interview

During the third interview, getting another person’s perspective on the applicant is important. Bring in a trusted co-owner or another team employee. You want someone who knows your café business to see if they agree with your assessment of the candidate.

This interview should take no more than 30 minutes—you’ll notice that, all together, the interviewing process should take no more than just over an hour. Once more, ensure that the applicant knows the job description and what will be required of them in this role. Walk the applicant through your café while emphasizing these facts.

Discuss how the applicant would handle real-life situations like a long line of waiting customers, cleaning up spilled drinks, and running a cash register during a rush. Having this conversation while walking through the café will give them clear expectations of what to expect in the role and give them a chance to ask questions.

The last step is to decide on an applicant and let others know they didn’t get the job. Confrontation is something that hiring managers shy away from; however, being professional and letting applicants know that they did not get the job is being proactive. Thank them for coming in. If they were qualified but not the top candidate, you can ask if you may keep their application on file for the future.

While hiring the right person takes time, in the busy life of a small business, it is better to take the time and deliberately work through each step rather than rush through them. Ultimately, you will save time and money by being prepared and thorough.

This article was originally published on January 24, 2018 and has been updated to reflect Fresh Cup’s current editorial standards. 

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Jennifer Auck

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