Avoiding Employee Problems: Hiring

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Finding the right person to join your equine business can be tough, but it is worth the effort.

Is finding that perfect employee a dream or potential reality? Where do you start to look and what is the best process? 

Posting the Job

If you are looking for barn help, a barn manager, or someone to fix fences and equipment, you could have luck by posting flyers in local feed stores, barns, tack shops and horse trailer businesses. Put ads in local horse club newsletters, and put the word out among your clients via email. Contact the Equine Sciences faculty at your local college for recommendations. Add a “Hiring” or “Careers” page to your website. Ask your current employees for recommendations. Craigslist and Facebook often yield results, as well. For more professional positions, search for mutual contacts in LinkedIn.

Before the Interview

Call references given on a resume. If you know someone besides the references who know the applicant, feel free to call them, too!

Make sure you carefully read a person's resume before you schedule an interview. If you notice gaps in employment, call and ask the person about it. (Often people will have spent time in jail and not include that on their resumes. While that in itself doesn't preclude you from hiring the person, you should ask what was occurring in that person's life during that time, check out his/her story, then make a decision based on the entire work/life history of the applicant.) 

While there are a lot of things you cannot ask a potential employee, you can ask if they have been convicted of a felony in most states. If you have children at your facility, you might want to make sure the person's name isn't on a juvenile sex offender's list. But before you delve into these matters, you should speak with an attorney who is familiar with your state laws to ensure you are acting within your rights as an employer. 

Also notice how often the person changes jobs, and why. If you are looking for someone to stick with your business, some of your interview questions might revolve around why the person has changed jobs so often.

The Interview

In order to best identify a person’s character and personality, try to make interviews as informal and relaxed as possible. Make a joke or two to put them at ease. While querying about their experience, keep the conversation relatively light-hearted so they are willing to share more about themselves. The ability to establish a good emotional connection allows them to be more revealing about who they are and what they think.

A relaxed interview process is in stark contrast to a formal interview process that only demonstrates how well the job seeker can verbalize practiced and memorized comments, which often tell you what you want to hear instead of letting you know who the person really is. Compatible personality characteristics and the ability to work with other employees in a business are important to success.

The Job Description

To avoid as many future problems as possible, provide a detailed write-up of the job description and ensure that the potential employee understands it as well as the employment contract (if you have one). Sometimes a trial period of a month or two can make the difference between having to hire and fire soon thereafter. This lets the employee, employer and other staff members figure out if they can work together as a team, and if their expectations about job performance are mutual and compatible. 

The Bottom Line

Hiring a new person to join your team should not be done without proper consideration of the person's fit for the job, how the person will adapt to your business group, and how long the person might stay at your facility. Don't be in a hurry. And if you find more than one person who might be a good fit for your facility, ask the person that you don't hire if you can keep their contact information for a possible future position.