Consider the important role each one of your team members plays in keeping your small business moving ahead. Now consider how just one person lacking the right skills can hold your company back.

So how do you make sure to hire the right person for the position?  The answer lies in preparing for the interview. Preparation takes time — something in short supply for any small business owner. However, making the wrong hire is something your business can’t afford.

Prepare for the interview

Begin the interview process by asking yourself what will make a successful hire for the position in terms of skills, knowledge and personal characteristics.

Use the criteria you establish for the job to develop a set of interview questions. Some should be fact based, such as “why are you looking for a new position at this time” or “what type of experience have you had that directly relates to the job?”  You also might want to find out if a candidate has been hands on with the  technologies you use.  Some of this information will be on a resume but the interview process enables you to dig deeper into someone’s background.

Other situational questions indicate how a candidate would respond to something that could realistically happen in your company. For example, ask how a candidate would handle an angry customer call. You also can ask questions that demonstrate skills. “Have you ever put on a webinar and what did you do to make it successful?” would fall into that category.

To determine if someone is the right fit for your company regardless of skill set, include values based questions about integrity, fair play or commitment to excellence.

Conduct the interview

Conduct the interview in a quiet environment. Don’t allow for interruptions – try not to take a call unless it’s urgent — and keep the door closed so there are no distractions.  If the candidate is remote, you might conduct a screening interview via Skype where you can still establish rapport and observe body language.   I have done this and two of these people work for me today

Before you start to ask questions, put the interviewee at ease with small talk. Talking about the weather is fine. Make sure your candidate understands the selection process and the timing.

Watch for body language. Ideally your candidate has open body language and is leaning in slightly toward you to engage. Someone sitting back in the chair with arms crossed is putting up a barrier.

On your part, try not to talk too much. You want your candidates to do most of the talking. If you are going to interview several candidates for the position, takes notes to help you remember each one.

There’s a temptation to follow your gut reaction when you are interviewing. Still there’s a lot more to hiring than liking someone. Do your homework, prepare and ask the right questions to find the right fit.