hiring your first manager

4 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your First Manager

By Dia Darling

When you start your own business, it’s likely you will be doing most of the heavy lifting. Depending on the type of business you have, you may find yourself filling the role of business owner, admin, office manager and more. As your business grows you will realize that it’s time to hire someone to take some of the burden off of you. Inviting someone into your business is a very delicate thing, you want to make sure that they are not only a good fit but that they will be taking stress off your plate and not adding on to it.

Here are four important questions to ask when you’re ready to hire your first manager.

1. Can they take initiative?

Don’t fall down the “you need experience to get a job, you need a job to get experience” rabbit hole. Your potential new hire doesn’t have to have experience with the title, “Manager,” but they need to be able to prove that they have taken chances and feel comfortable taking charge and developing new ideas.

A few examples of this could be:

  • Working in their free time to develop a presentation to lower the company budget
  • Heading a volunteer initiative with their previous co-workers
  • Holding a leadership role in a college organization like a sorority or sports team
  • Coming to the interview with ideas to better the business

2. How do your personalities work together?

If you’ve been working by yourself for 6 months and you are about to bring someone into your business, you are already dealing with a large adjustment. Don’t make that transition even more difficult by hiring someone you will butt heads with.

Diversity is great, especially when you’re trying to build a new business and a company culture, so don’t feel like you’re required to hire someone who is exactly like you. But hire someone who wouldn’t drive you crazy after 5 hours together either.

You can normally tell pretty quickly if you’d want to work with someone or not on a regular basis. If you are a really private and reserved person, a more open and outgoing person might be great for greeting customers, but if your business plan involves you working together in a closed space, you might find yourself getting annoyed. Find someone who can balance out your weakness, fill the role of the jobs and work well with you.

3. Are their references legit?

Many companies have started to disregard references because of their reliability. How can you be sure that the reference you’re calling isn’t just your interviewee’s best friend talking them up? Validate references by:

  • Looking for the reference on Linkedin, most people have a Linkedin profile and you should at least be able to tell you if they did or do work where you’ve been told they do.
  • Seeing if they have given you an office or business number instead of a personal cell phone. Remember: More people work remotely now, don’t automatically assume this isn’t a legitimate reference, just use your best judgement. Listen to how they answer the phone, do they change their tone to sound more professional when you tell them who you are? Do they have ringback tone that isn’t exactly professional? Did you get a voicemail? Is it set up? If so what do they say? “Yo, this is Fat Freddie!” Chances are Freddie doesn’t use his phone for business calls and might just be the applicant’s friend.
  • Clarifying on the application or when asking for the references that they should be a professional reference. Obviously, your mom thinks you’re “super,” but what does your old boss think?
  • Determining of they are recent? Ask when they worked with/for this person. If it isn’t in the last 5 years, ask them about it. They may have a simple answer like they decided to be a stay at home parent, worked for themselves, worked for a family or friend’s business and didn’t think it was a valid reference.

4. Do they have an understanding of the role, company and type of work?

A lot of times people may see your job listing online or in the newspaper and think they know what the job requires, but not actually be correct. Ask the potential employee what they think your company does and just listen to what they have to say. While training will be required with any new employee, it’s important that a new employee (especially someone in a management role) has a clear understanding of what the company does.

They may not understand the full expectations of the role, and since it’s the company’s first manager or employee the rules maybe a bit more fluid while you figure things out and adjust. This is totally normal but be sure to set that expectation.

Like with any decision, making the right choice the first time is a lot easier than making the wrong and starting over. These tips should help you better filter out potential candidates and find someone to help your new business grow. Happy hunting!

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Dia Darling

Dia Darling is a blogger and freelance writer for the Parham Group. She specializes in online business, time management and small business growth. A diverse employment history, when Dia isn’t writing, she enjoys basketball games, karaoke and scary stories.


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