by Lori Prosio

Not long after I started my public relations firm in Roseville, I knew the time would come when I would have to start hiring to accommodate my growing business. But I wasn’t interested in hiring just anyone.

When starting a new business, the people you hire can make or break your company. These are the people who will serve as the face of your emerging business and your brand, who will enrich and preserve your company culture.

Whether it’s just adding a person, hiring for a new department or hiring several to create a sizable staff, here are a few things that worked for me and that you might want to consider before combing through resumes and scheduling your first round of interviews.

Define your company culture

The term “company culture” may be overused, but it’s integral to your hiring process. You can’t hire the right people to represent and expand your company if you haven’t defined what your company represents and what its goals are. Right now, can you answer the following about your company?

  • What are five words I want people to use in describing my company?
  • What skills and characteristics do I value in my employees?
  • What do I want my work environment to be — independent, collaborative, relaxed?
  • What are your company’s priorities and goals?
  • How will you communicate your values and goals to employees?

In companies where this culture is well-defined and valued, it should be reflected in every hiring decision.

Find the right people

For my first three openings, I had the good fortune to hire people who had worked for me previously. I knew their work ethic, their capabilities, their personalities and their goals for professional growth. These are the individuals I knew would lay a solid foundation for my business and embody the company culture that I wanted to perpetuate in the firm.

Not everyone will have the opportunity to hire people they know when first starting a business, but there are many avenues one can take to ensure they are finding the most qualified candidates and those who will be the right fit.

Having a clear definition of my company’s culture helped guide what I wrote in my job posts and thus caught the attention of those who had similar values.

The key factor in determining the right employees is the interview process. It’s just as important for you to impress your potential employees as it is for them to impress you. Showcase your company’s values and personality in each interview.

More importantly, ensure that employees who most embody your company’s culture meet the candidates and give you feedback. This way you can rest assured that applicants who choose you are choosing your values and are willing to meet your expectations as well.

Integrate them into your company

Hiring the right employees doesn’t stop on their first day at work. There’s no point in investing your time into finding the best employees if you do nothing to foster their growth and retain them.

Whether your business is just beginning or has been around for years, it’s important to not only deliver on the company culture you promise — but exceed your new-hires’ expectations professionally, too.

Keep in tune with your staff. Offer opportunities for increased responsibilities. Be clear about expectations and what will lead them to success. Make sure they know you value them.

By showing that you invest in them and are entrusting them with your company’s brand, you’re setting your business up for even greater success in the years to come.

This article originally appeared in the November 28, 2014 edition of the Sacramento Business Journal.