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How to Hire The Right Employee to Grow Your Small Tech Biz

Here are six tips to help you hire the kind of employee who will help your small tech business grow.
How to Hire The Right Employee to Grow Your Small Tech Biz
Image credit: Thinkstock
By The Hartford

Hiring the right employee to grow your small business is always important, but it's especially key in the constantly changing small tech industry. That's because you need to not only prepare for your current growth plans, but future ones too. You have to find an employee who is future-ready and eager to stay up-to-date with the shifts in your industry.

And don't forget: because new employees mean new insurance needs – especially in the tech world – be sure to update your professional liability coverage and check out our guide to potential risks so that you can safeguard yourself against them.

Here are six tips to help you hire the kind of employee who will help your small tech business grow.

1. Invite a Tech Pro to Interview a Candidate With You

To find the right hire, you need to make sure a candidate really does know the small tech business. You don't want to hire a resume embellisher. If you're not technically inclined (or even if you are), a good way to filter out the pros from the posers is to include your top tech guru in the interview process. They'll know exactly what to ask. They'll be able to ask the job candidate more specific tech questions, like which coding software they're more comfortable with or what their experience with a specific product is like.

If you don't have a tech guru, use your network to find one. Either way, you want someone on hand to ask the right questions.

2. Test Their Knowledge

Small tech businesses are open to unique risks. So consider asking potential employees to demonstrate their hands-on knowledge. Can your potential new employee actually do what they say they can – whether it involves hardware, software, coding, or design? Devise a simple assignment or test to find out. Now, don't overdo it. Too much heavy testing can scare good candidates away.

If you don't want to create your own assessment, you can work with an online service to have potential hires take an exam before they come in for an interview. It'll accomplish the same thing: you'll be able to see if they have the knowledge and skills for the job.

Different companies, like Microsoft and Cisco, offer training programs for numerous certifications within the IT industry. If candidates can show evidence of product certifications, it'll show you they received the proper training to work with specific products.

You can also ask the potential new employee how they would address specific tech issues. Give them a real life scenario that could happen with your business and listen to how they would approach the problem. And don't be afraid to ask about recent issues affecting the tech industry, like hacking or ransomware. Here are some examples:

  • The server hosting your company website is down and clients can't access it. How would you handle this situation?
  • A computer at the office is infected with ransomware and the hacker is demanding a large sum of money for the decryption key. What would you do in this scenario?
  • You detect an unknown person accessing the company's servers and you suspect it's a hacker. How would you address this issue?

Hiring the wrong employee can open you and your business up to risks. For instance, tech employees who don’t have the right knowledge can potentially offer the wrong advice to clients. Depending on the impact of this advice, it can result in lawsuits and claims filed against your business. If you don’t have the right small business insurance this can result in large out of pocket payments, in addition to unhappy clients. One of the best ways to ensure you’re protected is through a Business Owner’s Policy that bundles key coverages. 

As you interview candidates, remember that the right employees are able to hit the ground running and know how to fix potential issues that may pop up.

3. Make Sure They're Constant Learners

Because the tech world is constantly evolving, your small business needs someone who is always evolving too. Your potential employee should be passionate about learning the next big thing.

How do you check for that? You can look at their social media feeds to see how often they're engaged with the latest industry news. You can also look on their resume to see if they've listed any certifications. Consider asking if they have a desire to attend conferences or classes.

During an interview, you can ask them where they think a technology that impacts your business is headed. Ask them questions about trending subjects, like artificial intelligence, mobile apps, the Internet of Things, and how they think it can be applied to the company.

4. Ensure They're a Good Company Culture Fit

Knowledge and abilities aren't everything. You also want your new hire to be a good culture fit who adjusts seamlessly to your company's values and team dynamics. A good way to do that is to just talk to them without any mention of their resume or the job. Just get to know them.

  • What are they passionate about beyond their career?
  • What are their hobbies?

Find a way to get a sense of who they are, not just as employees, but as people. You'll land a better hire as a result. And you'll have a better sense of whether or not they'll fit right in with the company or if they'll butt heads with others.

5. Don't Forget the Other Necessities

Even though the tech-related questions are important to ask, don't forget about the common interview questions.

  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can they describe a time when they were successful?
  • Can they tell you about a time they had to overcome an issue or obstacle?

Laszlo Bock, the former senior vice president of People Operations at Google, wrote in a column that these questions can help you separate the best candidates from the rest of the group.

“The questions give you a consistent, reliable basis for sifting the superb candidates from the merely great, because superb candidates will have much, much better examples and reasons for making the choices they did," he wrote.

If the candidate hasn't already given you one, ask for a list of references. Talking to their references can give you a better sense of their work ethic. It's also an opportunity for you to ask questions about the candidate and hear first-hand what it was like to work with them.

6. Offer a Career, Not a Job

Hiring the right employee isn't just about candidates proving themselves to you. It's also about what you offer to draw the perfect employee to grow your business. Because talented tech workers are often ambitious and passionate, one key thing to do is offer a career, not just a job.

Promise them challenges and the opportunity to pursue large projects. Offer to contribute to their career advancement by paying for their continuing education or attendance at conferences or events. Show them that you're invested in your employees and you want to see them grow, both personally and professionally.

There's a rise of millennials in the workforce. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates millennials will make up 34% of the labor force by 2024. What your company does and how employees work are all factors that contribute to how attracted people will be to your business. You can speak about employee flexibility, independence, and whether they have the option to work from home. You can also describe important principles and values to your company, like giving back to the local community.

Offering a home where employees can grow with the company, and make their mark on it will go a long way towards attracting the right kind of employee; one who will make a long-term difference for your company. Hiring someone who is eager to continue learning to keep up with the constantly changing industry and demonstrates the needed skills for the job is crucial to the continued success of your tech company.

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