The hiring process.  It’s fun, right? Ha, not so much.

It can often feel like the future of your business rests on the weight of your decision to hire someone; and it kind of does! While you, the business owner, may be in the background, your employees are the face of your company. Hiring someone tells your customers that you trust this person to embody the values of your business, and you should be confident that that’s the truth.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re hiring good people and making the best choice for your business? Here are my top five tips for finding the right person for the job:

1. Watch the clock.

This seems like a no-brainer, but don’t take it lightly. If someone is late for an interview, chances are they’ll be late to work. People bring their best selves to interviews; if their best self is late, you can almost guarantee the 5 AM version of themselves will be late, too. This can lead to late openings, angry co-workers, and a stressed out staff. I think we can all agree that none of those things are good.

2. Absolutely call every reference.

Your interviewee may talk the talk and have the experience or personality you’re looking for, but you need to be 100% certain. You wouldn’t believe the number of five-star interviews I’ve had, only to find out from a reference that it would be a disaster if I’d hired them. First impressions are best impressions and you can’t learn everything you need to know sitting across a table for 30 minutes, so make sure you’re learning from the people who can speak to their character!

3. Ask off the wall questions.

I always ask, “what would you do if you were closing and you found a $20 bill on the floor?” The answers blow. me. away. I’ve heard everything from “finders keepers,” to “I’d assume it was a tip and put it in the tip jar!” The answer I’m looking for is something a little different; I want someone to say “I’d put it with the till and leave a note about when and where I found it,” because it shows that they put the interest of the business before themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your potential employee’s penchant for drama, either. Be direct with regards to your expectations and ask them if they find them agreeable. 

4. Have fun. Yes, the interview process is serious.

But the interview is also an opportunity for you to show off the culture and the vibe of the business that you run, so that the interviewee can gage if it’s a good fit for them. Offer a cup of coffee and talk about something that’s not on their resume, help them relax, and maybe joke around a little to see how they might react to your sense of humor. Creating a comfortable space will result in a much more revealing interview, and you’ll both be better for it. 

5. Hire an owner.

You’ll know it when it happens. A person of impeccable character and judgment comes in for an interview, and you love every answer they give and their references can’t say enough good things about them. These are the people to look out for. If you’re serious about your business, you should be eager to hire someone who acts like they own the place when you’re not around: they do what’s in the best interest of the company, they use their time wisely, they work hard, they are humble and gracious, customers love them, and they love their customers. When I’ve had people like this interview with me, it doesn’t matter if they have experience or not. I’m not hiring baristas; I’m hiring ambassadors for my business.

I can train anyone to make coffee, but I can’t train someone to have a good work ethic. Sure, I can show you how to steam milk, but I can’t show you how to be honest. I can train you to use the POS system, but I can’t train you to be kind.  See where I’m going here?  The right person for the job is worth the time and effort it takes to train them to be a barista.  

If you want to be successful, grow your business and grow your brand, you need the best employees. It’s more important than anything else you will do as a small business owner, so take the time to do it right! Just don’t forget to have fun.