Advice Straight from a Small Business Hiring Manager
Small businesses employ over half of all private sector employees and have produced 64% of new job growth over the past 15 years. So, if you are searching for a job, small businesses are a great place to look.
Want to know what small businesses might be looking for in you?
One small business hiring decision-maker, Joe Wallace, an Operations Manager at A-Way Transport, a Queens-based moving and delivery company, sat down with Workforce1 and gave us the “Inside Scoop” on what he – like many small business managers – look for during an interview.
Bottom line: work ethic and a “can do” attitude count for a lot more than all the technical skills in the world. Read the full Q&A below for more insight from Joe on what A-Way Transport – like other small businesses – looks for when interviewing candidates.
Workforce1 Career Bulletin (W1): What is the most common reason people do NOT get hired?
Joe Wallace (JW): The first filter is the person’s resume. Do they have the experience? Do they have the knowledge that we require? That’s the first thing.
Then, if 5 people have the necessary experience, the thing that is really important is personality. Is the person going to work well with us as the company’s managers, with other people as co-workers, and can they overcome obstacles and hardships to get the job done?
W1: How do you assess someone’s personality?
JW: How does the person present themselves? Some people walk into an interview and don’t even consider that they are talking to a potential boss. They have an attitude that this is a job interview and all they have to do is answer questions. But a job interview is not like a test in school where you just have to give the right answer. A job interview is not just about the words you say. It is about how you present yourself.
W1: So, are you looking at whether or not people look you in the eye? If they shake your hand? What are looking for?
JW: We do look at that – does the person thank us for the interview or do they just walk out? Are they respectful enough to shake our hand? But, what we are really looking for is: who are you as a person?
When we do the interviews, the first part is all about: what is your background and experience? How many years of driving experience do you have? What types of trucks have you driven in the past? Etc.
But after experience, we just banter to determine who they are as a person. The most important criteria for us is: will this person be able to get along in our small company? We look to see if the person is going to be able to handle a situation with a difficult customer. Or, what would they do if a truck broke down? Are they just going to walk away or are they going to take care of the situation? Also, we want to see that people have common sense business skills – like if they can’t make it to work will they call the night before?
You should tell jobseekers: just be yourself. You can’t fake this stuff. If you are a nice person, let it shine.
W1: Your advice is actually very similar to what we’ve heard from other organizations. When we spoke to Aloft Harlem, a hip boutique hotel – very different than A-Way Transport – the hiring managers emphasized a similar concept. They talked about the importance of personality and representing the brand as the most important hiring criteria. You aren’t necessarily talking a brand – but you are talking about personality, and fitting in with the company, as being the critical “make or break” factor.
JW: Yes. We want our employees to be the pinnacle of courtesy. We meet guys all the time who have perfect resumes but who aren’t courteous. We look for good-hearted people. The customer is always right!
My biggest advice is: be humble and present yourself as someone who will get the job done no matter what. When an employer sees someone who will do the job no matter what obstacles get in the way – that is a valuable employee!