Whether it is your first employee or your hundredth, hiring a new team member is bound to be a decision that creates anxiety and often frustration.
I have listed below a few of the most valuable lessons I have learned while hiring employees for both my fitness company as well as while in corporate management. Not much is different between the two worlds, believe it or not.
Bottom line, your goal is to hire the most qualified team members that will add value to your business and are vested in your vision; not just someone to "get the job done." You will inevitably experience hiring the wrong person at some point. Learn from these experiences and you will hone your hiring skills, get a better sense of what you are looking for and discover what type of employee aligns best with your business.
Hire slow, fire quickly. Take your time to find the right person; do not hesitate to fire. Holding on to someone who doesn't belong can wreak havoc on your business and cost you more.
A resume means nothing. "Good" resumes are a dime-a-dozen. Never hire based on a resume. Were they professional when they contacted you? Did they present themselves in a way you would feel comfortable with your clients interacting? Did they follow-up with you? Do they have the intangibles and social experience you are looking for beyond just their education and skills?
Listen to your gut. It may sound cliche, but listen to what your gut instinct is about a person. What is your first impression? Your clients will likely have a similar reaction.
Do your due diligence. Never hire out of necessity or with a sense of emergency. Call referrals and past clients and ask tough questions such as, "what was a challenge you faced with X person."
Don't try to make orange juice out of an apple. Focus on the strengths of a candidate and if those strengths are what you are seeking in a new employee, they may be suitable for your business. Never try to mold someone into something you need them to be; capitalize on their strengths.
Test them. Before you offer the candidate a position, have them train you or lead a section of a group workout. See how they interact with clients and if they are complementary to your business values and mission.
Keep your mind open -- don't compare the "new guy" to your other "star employees."
Have an explicit probationary period in their contract, or offer an internship opportunity with the possibility of a position once the internship is complete.
Incentivize and reward. Aside from the intangibles of what you offer an employee you should not only pay better than your competitors, but incentivize and reward - maybe even more than you feel comfortable. Your investment in committed employees will pay itself back several-fold by maintaining loyalty and minimizing turnover (that will ultimately save you money) and help you focus on the growth of your business rather than constantly hiring and micro-managing your team.