Three Steps to Hiring a Talented Team

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

I need to hire someone, but I don’t have the time,” many new business owners say to themselves. When in fact, they don’t have time not to hire someone.

Why wait until you are working 60 or 70 hours a week trying to keep up? By then, it may already be too late. In a desperate rush, you might hire one or two people who don’t work out because you didn’t have time to train them properly.

Hiring team members requires a more structured approach—and starts with placing an emphasis on the word “team.” It adds value to your employees by fostering an attitude of teamwork.

Before you advertise for a position with your team, you should have a detailed job description that includes duties and shift requirements. By being detailed in your expectations, you will have begun to eliminate those who don’t fit your needs.

A three-part interview, when done efficiently and correctly, will help managers to make the most of their time and be prepared.


Fifteen minutes is all it takes to make a first impression. Use this time to introduce yourself and cover the job description. Ask the potential team member, “Can you perform the job requirements?” A cashier needs to be attentive for a long time, and a barista needs to have basic knowledge of brewing. Be honest about the job. When you change details, or compromise on the job requirements because you need someone now, you begin to sabotage your business.

After confirming that the potential team member is capable of doing the job, schedule a time for an in-person interview. Choose a time when you can be solely focused on the applicant. Trying to interview while working implies to both your applicant and customers that they are not important enough for your attention.

Photo by Nick MacMillan
Photo by Nick MacMillan


When asking the right questions, 30 minutes is all you need. Have the applicant’s resume in hand and make sure you have read it before they get there.

Meet in your office or a private room where customers and staff aren’t tempted to interfere with the interview. You should be actively interviewing—not watching the cashier to see if she got the order right.

Interview questions are an art, and they can work for you or against you. “Tell me about yourself?” is an invitation for an applicant to spend 15 minutes talking about his family or a recent vacation. Open-ended questions, in contrast, are great for allowing the applicant to think on the spot and reveal their true strengths and weaknesses.

Instead, try asking, “Tell me about your best boss ever,” or “Tell me about a time you made a mistake and what you did next.” Ask questions that pertain to the business, such as “How do you like your coffee?”

If their answers ring true and fit the job description, make a note to schedule a third interview. If not, thank the interviewee for coming in and let them know you will notify them by a set date about a third interview. If they don’t hear from you by then, that means they didn’t move on.

You may have heard the term “ghosted.” Have you ever applied for a job, certain that you and the hiring manager had a bright future together? But then you notice that the listing has disappeared from the company’s website, and a new face has appeared on the café’s team. That’s being ghosted—and it’s upsetting as anything. Ghosting applicants is both unprofessional and lazy. Remember, you want to retain them as customers after an interview.

Chemex pour, photo by Nathan Dumlao
Chemex pour, photo by Nathan Dumlao


During the third interview, it’s important to get another person’s perspective on the applicant. Bring in a trusted co-owner or another team employee. What you want is someone who has knowledge of your café business to see if they agree with your assessment of the candidate.

This interview should take no more than 30 minutes. One more time, make sure that the applicant knows the job description and what will be required of them. Walk the applicant through your café while emphasizing these facts.

Discuss how the applicant would handle real-life situations: a lengthy line of waiting customers, cleaning up spilled drinks, and running a cash register during a rush. Having this conversation while walking through the café will give them clear expectations.

The last step is to decide on an applicant and let others know they didn’t get the job. Confrontation is something that hiring managers shy away from; however, being professional and letting applicants know that they did not get the job is being proactive. Thank them for coming in. If they were qualified but not the top candidate, you can ask if you may keep their application on file for the future.

While hiring the right person takes time, in the busy life of a small business, it is better to take the time and deliberately work through each step rather than rush through them. Ultimately, you will save time and money by being prepared and thorough.