Q. Since I set up my business, it has just been me and my partners. But we are doing well and we want to start hiring. How do I go about it?

A.There are two ways to hire staff, says Stuart Hearn from Plus HR, a consultancy. The first is to use an agency, which will advertise the job then send you appropriate candidates’ CVs. If you hire someone they recommend then you pay them a fee. Another way is the direct hire approach, which avoids agencies. You do the work yourself, which can be time consuming, but for a small company this can be a good solution. Hiring someone who fits in with the culture of your company is crucial and managing the hiring process yourself means that you are more likely to find somebody who is a good fit.

Q. Some big companies use personality profiling to hire staff, is this also effective for small firms?

A.Of course, it’s impossible to know 100 per cent whether someone has the right personality to fit in with the culture of your organisation, but to try and mitigate hiring the wrong person, Hearn says that personality testing – which can be completed online before people come to an interview – can be useful. The most popular tests include Thomas International’s Personality Profile Analysis and Saville and Holdsworth’s Occupational Personality Questionnaire. These profiles tell you if, for example, a person is a rule-follower, a risk taker or has a more creative temperament.

Although it doesn’t guarantee you will get the perfect match, says Hearn, personality testing can help you to weed out candidates who might not work out in the long run.

Q. How should I structure the interview process?

A.If you have a small business then time is of the essence. Conduct a telephone interview to start with to narrow down the number of candidates that you bring in to interview. Next is the actual face-to-face interview. A good interview can last one to one and a half hours. Although this might seem long, it is worth putting in the time to get the right person, Hearn says.

To start with, introduce the format of the interview to put the candidate at ease. For the first half get them to talk about themselves and their experience. The second half of the interview should concentrate on competency based questions. For example, if you want someone who can make decisions fast, ask them to walk you through a time they had to make an important decision and how they did it.

Next, finish off the interview by talking about the role and answer any questions the candidate may have.

A second interview should be different from the first, says Hearn. Introduce the rest of the team then consider giving the candidate a task, for example, a presentation.

Two interviews should be enough, says Hearn. If, after two interviews, you still haven’t found someone, his advice is to give up rather than hire the wrong candidate: “Hire someone on an interim basis and then start the process again.”