Skip to main content

In association with

 

Hiring your first employee

Hiring your first employee is a big milestone, which can make a huge difference for your business. A lot can also go wrong. Here are some tips to help you get the right person for the job.

When to hire: think ahead

Hiring your first employee is a big decision , and it’s a real milestone for any business. If managed well, it can mark a turning point for what your business can achieve.

First off, it’s important to think ahead, and to plan for this new phase in the life of your business. Many businesses owners only start the hiring process when they are already overwhelmed with work. Ideally it is better to hire before you get to this point, so you can take your time and find the right person for the job.

Check in on your own health, time and abilities

  • are you working long hours and feeling overstretched, or overstressed?
  • consider the most productive use of your time, eg if you paid someone $25/hour for an admin role, could your business earn more than that for an hour of your work?
  • think about what role you would want to hire for. Are you looking for help with administration? Is there more demand for your product or service than you can manage? Do you want to offer different services that require skills you don’t have?

Check in on the health of your business

  • are you losing business because you don’t have capacity for new clients/customers?
  • could you make more money if you offered different services?
  • where do you expect your business to be over the next year or so, based on your recent experience? Is your business likely to continue growing, or could this be a seasonal blip?
  • can you afford to hire? The business needs to be able to provide tools for a new employee to do their job, and should be able to sustain at least 12 months of wages for an additional permanent person. Remember you may also have other financial obligations to a new hire, eg KiwiSaver contributions and holiday pay.
Business.govt.nz, together with experts across government and the private sector, have created a wide range of resources to help with hiring and managing staff.

Business.govt.nz, together with experts across government and the private sector, have created a wide range of resources to help with hiring and managing staff.

We’ve brought together some of the key advice and resources focused on hiring an employee.

How to hire: know what you need

If you think you’re ready to hire, make some time to work out:

  • the tasks you want the new person to take on. Are the tasks fixed and regular, do you need someone with specific qualifications or certifications, or do you need a generalist who can do a bit of everything?
  • the values core to your business that you would want any new staff to embody
  • whether you need someone permanent or casual
  • whether you want someone part-time or full-time
  • if you need someone who can hit the ground running, or if you have the time and energy to train someone
  • how much you want to delegate
  • market rates for the role you want to hire for
  • what tools they’ll need to do their job.

Then it’s time to write a job description that clearly outlines the tasks and objectives of the role. It should:

  • identify your business and its focus
  • be written at a level suited to the position
  • identify tasks and responsibilities
  • set out the hours and place of work
  • describe the values and abilities the person will need
  • specify any minimum requirements or qualifications
  • describe ideal personal skills, knowledge and attributes
  • cover how you’ll measure their performance
  • include any authority the position has, eg financial.

You could tell friends, advertise the job on your website and social media channel. You might also use a job advertising website or a recruitment agent for a fee.

Talk to your local Regional Business Partner Network for advice and guidance on hiring.

Talk to your local Regional Business Partner Network for advice and guidance on hiring.

Get connected (external link) — Regional Business Partner Network

Hiring the right person

Having someone fill out an application form can be helpful – it can give you information you need to help you select people for an interview. It’s also a good place to ask them for consent to contact their referees if you need to.

You don’t have to interview everyone – shortlist the people you think are best suited to the job, and spend some time preparing for their interview.

Write down the information you need to give them in the interview, along with the questions you’ll ask, so all candidates get the same information. Make sure your questions are open-ended (can’t be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’) so the candidates can show you what they know, and so you can learn more about them.

Don’t make a snap decision and offer a role during an interview.

Don’t make a snap decision and offer a role during an interview.

When you think you’ve found the right person, you should always check at least one reference before you make a job offer.

Checking references

“Reference checking is key because most people tell you what you want to hear in an interview,” says Jason Stockdale, Regional Growth Advisor at the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce. “Ask referees questions that show that the candidate can do what they said they can do.”

Ask yourself what is most important and relevant for you to find out about the candidate’s abilities. Prepare your questions in advance and ask concise, open-ended questions that make the referee use their judgement, rather than letting them answer ‘yes’ or ’no’.

The goal is to hire the person who’s the best match for the job you’re offering, and the best match for your work environment.

Remember you don’t always need to hire someone just like you.

Remember you don’t always need to hire someone just like you.

Take time to compare each applicant to the job requirements, to ask yourself who could do the job and which person best fits the job’s requirements.

When you’ve gone through a good hiring process, you should end up offering the role to the best applicant, and the employer and employee should both understand their own roles, rights and responsibilities.

Register as an employer (external link) — Inland Revenue

How to hire – a guide for employers [PDF, 805KB] (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Do you have more questions about hiring an employee?

Do you have more questions about hiring an employee?

Contact Employment New Zealand on 0800 20 90 20 or email employment@employment.govt.nz.

Rating form

How useful did you find this article?

Rate this