Wednesday, July 21, 2010

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Hiring an Urban Intern

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As a savvy business owner, you've recognized by now that you can't do everything on your own. So you've made the decision: you're ready to bring on someone who can handle all the things that you A) don’t have time for, and B) would choose oral surgery over (expense reports, anyone?). But how do you pick the perfect person, whether a part time employee, contractor or intern, who can handle all the chaos, er, complexity that comes with running a small business? Here are some crucial questions to consider when hiring:

  1. Do you see initiative? References may point to the answer, but even in the interview you'll notice things like whether you’re doing all the talking and contributing valuable ideas. Beyond that, probe for clues on whether your prospective hire might buckle under pressure or let things slip through the cracks when you're not around.
  2. What’s the organization quotient? Not only will the person you hire need to keep himself on track, but you may lean on your Urban Intern to keep you on task. Do you see a track record of multi-tasking, handling several schedules, coordinating resources, and implementing systems to improve efficiency? Someone who is organized and pays attention to detail is essential.
  3. Are meaningful questions asked? It's important that someone you bring on "gets" you and your business—that they understand how it runs, what your goals are and how he or she will be expected to contribute. If you need to put everything on pause every hour to walk her through another process, it could add up to way more hand-holding than you have the patience for. Find someone who listens well the first time and demonstrates the ability to problem solve on their own.
  4. What will happen when the cat’s away? There's a "gut-sense" factor that comes into play with every hiring decision, but if you’re hiring someone who will work remotely and out of your direct supervision, it's even more important that the person you hire puts you at ease and exudes trustworthiness.When you consider that this person will be unsupervised at times, handling confidential information, and partly responsible for the success of your business, do you feel reassured... or scared?
  5. What's the slacker factor? Do you sense enthusiasm from your interviewee on becoming part of your team? Whether you’re bringing someone on for a few hours a day or a few hours a week, you can’t afford to make hiring mistakes. Everyone you bring on must pull their own weight and there is simply no room for slacking off. Look for someone who considers themselves as instrumental as any full-time employee and has the eagerness to match it.

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