The Oh Yes, No B.S. Guide To Interviewing & Hiring Like a Boss

Congratulations! You’re hiring!!!

You’ve decided you’re ready to bring on a new team member! This is both an exciting AND an overwhelming experience all at once.

Hiring is a big deal! 

It’s so important to get the “right butts in the right seats” 😆 (virtually, I guess!)

When you hire the right person, new possibilities and avenues will open up for your business.

But to bridge the gap between the current state and the future state of your business, you’re going to have to FIND that perfect hire first.

I get it. 

Easier said than done!

On the one hand, you’re excited about how the right support might help you SCALE towards your big business goals. On the other hand, you’re probably wondering things like:

  • What if I hire the wrong person?
  • Where should I look for applicants?
  • How many people should I interview?
  • What if I can’t afford to hire a new team member?
  • What do I even ASK during the interview?

If any (or all) of these questions have crossed your mind, this blog is for you!

We’ll explore mindset work around stepping into your role as CEO, how to prepare for the interview process, how to screen applicants, what to say during the interview itself, and how to evaluate your candidates so that you can confidently hire the perfect team member for the job!

Start Here (even if you don’t want to)

Any significant change that will help you scale to the next level requires the right mindset.

I know, I know..

The very MOMENT you see the phrase “mindset work” you recoil just a little bit.

NOT because you don’t see the value, but because it isn’t for the faint of heart. 

Hear me out for a second, though, will ya?

Hiring a team is going to require you to confront your stuff. And I won’t lie: it’s gonna bring up a lot of it!

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this piece of the puzzle before we dive into the nuts and bolts of hiring for your team.

Growing your team is a huge hurdle. It can be an emotional process, and you may be challenged by mindset blocks along the way.

  1. You will slowly but surely start to see yourself in a new light. No, it won’t happen overnight. But, as you expand your team, you’re also expanding your leadership skills. You’re stepping into your role as not just an entrepreneur, not just a CEO, but as a BOSS who is capable of leading a team. Ready or not, it’s time. I believe in you. 

  2. You’ll also start to confront your relationship with money. Hiring a new team member will cost you financially. However, leaders (like YOU) know that hiring skilled, talented, passionate individuals is an INVESTMENT not an EXPENSE. The people you bring onto your team are going to become a big piece of the work you do now AND the impact you have in the future. 

I encourage you to check in with yourself, stay connected to your why, and reach out to your support system for help and guidance!

You’ve GOT this!

The Two Types of Interviews

As a creative business owner, you might hire for different reasons. There will be seasons in your business when you need short-term help and QUICK! I call this the Interview “Lite” Process. If you are taking this route, proceed with caution. I only recommend you go through a “lite” interview process if you are hiring a temporary contractor position and need to move quickly on a low-stakes project (aka this new contractor does not hold the keys to your success!). 

For example, you might need to hire a copywriter to write up a sales page as a one-off project. Or you might outsource a graphic designer to polish a client deliverable for you. Since these are typically short-term, low-stakes projects, you don’t need to focus as much on finding the “perfect” person. Your priority in this situation is to find a person with the capacity, skills, and timelines you need right now. You aren’t as concerned with long-term goals or work styles since these types of projects are short-lived. 

However, it can be a big BONUS if the contractors you hire through a lite-interview process ALSO align with your values, mission, and work style. Even if you aren’t planning to “officially” bring them onto your team, it’s always helpful to have a go-to resource for projects like this in the future. 

As my husband loves to say, “I’ve got a person for that!” ( and he really does, it’s AH-MAZING)

I love keeping a network of fabulous vendors and contractors handy! This serves me, but also helps me direct people in my circle to individuals I wholeheartedly recommend!

So… even if you think a “lite-interview” process is for you, it can be worth taking the additional time to pull in some or all pieces of a more traditional interview process. 

Hint, hint: you should DEFINITELY keep reading. 

While there is a time and a place for these “lite” interviews, in this blog, we’ll talk about the process for hiring a team member in the more traditional sense. I call this The “Long-Term Commitment” Interview Process. In this process, you are looking to interview and hire a team member for the “long-haul.” This isn’t just a quickie project, it’s a partnership. As a result, you want to take your time to make sure this person is a good fit whether they are a contractor you plan to work with repeatedly OR an employee you intend to bring onto your team.

Interview Pre-Work

When you think of preparing for an interview, you probably think of it from a candidate’s perspective (because it’s what you know). But now the tables have turned, and you’re on the other side of the process! 

Luckily, pre-work will help you walk into the interview process like a pro. Here are the five things you should define before interviewing a single candidate!

#1 What Do You Need?

What position do you want to fill? This question may seem a bit obvious, but you need to be clear about the role, what this person will do, and how exactly they will add value to your business. Make sure you evaluate your capacity, understand your workload, and find the area of greatest need so you can hire the right person at the right time.

Do you need to figure out which role will move the needle forward in your business? As you decide on your first or next hire, check out my previous post, The Three Most Common Hires to Consider When Growing Your Team. 

#2 Create a Job Description

Before you can even THINK about hiring, you need to have a job description. It can be a formal executive summary or an informal bullet list of responsibilities. No matter how you choose to format it, the job description needs to be specific. 

A job description will make sure the expectations and responsibilities are crystal clear for you AND your candidate. Communicate well from the start to set the tone for your work together. Map out the duties, tasks, workload, schedule expectations, and commitment requirements.

Beyond these details, describe what success looks like for this position and how you will evaluate them. I have witnessed countless business owners hire the WRONG person because they never defined the role. These hires flounder and ultimately fail because expectations were unclear from the start.

Remember, when hiring you fit the person to the job, not the job to the person. Establishing clear expectations and defining the role ahead of the interview will ensure your hire is the right person.

#3 Define Your Budget

It goes without saying…

Finding the right team member will be a financial commitment. 

That’s why defining your hiring budget requires a bit of front-end work. 

You can’t predict for sure how much each candidate will need for a salary or hourly wage. So, it’s essential to define a RANGE that makes sense for you. Know your budget range so you can appropriately search for a candidate with the right experience to fit your needs. At the same time you’ll ensure that you can comfortably commit to their salary requests.

Consider things like:

  • What seems to be the industry norm for this role?  Do some investigating and collect data.
  • What levels and specific skill sets am I looking for in a new hire?
  • What is the MOST I could afford? Be realistic!
  • What feels too low based on the type of experience level I need?

Knowing your ideal and max budgets will help you avoid spending outside of your budget without sacrificing your values. 


Remember how I mentioned your money mindset earlier in this post? 

Now is the time to do this mindset work. 

While you need to determine a realistic and financially responsible range for your hiring budget, you ALSO need to remember that this is not an expense, it is an investment in talented people and the future growth of your business. 

COO Tip: Talk to your accountant as you define your hiring budget. They can best advise what you can reasonably afford to pay your new hire so you can move forward with confidence. 

# 4 Prepare questions & be ready to discuss core values. 

You’re definitely NOT gonna want to think of questions on the fly come interview time! 

Have an outline ready related to credentials, experience, soft skills, learning style, communication, training requirements, etc. You may ask some specific yes or no questions to ensure they have the right qualifications for the position (hopefully most of these questions will be answered in the pre-screening process– we’ll get to that shortly), but try to think of questions that will allow for open-ended responses. Encourage your candidate to reflect on specific experiences, challenges, or perspectives. 

Make sure to also ask questions related to your core values and brand mission. You could find the most SKILLED person ever, but they may not be the right fit for YOU if they don’t buy into your mission, values, and vision. These questions will help you identify when you’ve  found the right candidate on a deeper level.

#5 Business-Specific Needs

Finally, consider anything else that matters to you in the hiring search. 

Reflect on the unique needs of your business like:

  • Location. Maybe you want someone local or maybe you’re open to hiring a remote team member.
  • Schedule and availability. Are they able to get started within your timeline? Are they available during the days and hours you need?
  • Non-negotiable experiences or skills. Just like in dating, it’s good to know your deal breakers before entering into an employment relationship.

Get SUPER clear on what you need BEFORE you try and find the right person.

Otherwise you run the risk of hiring someone just because you like them, not because they are best for the job! Or, you hire thinking that they are a good fit for the job, but since the job and tasks weren’t super clear, you miss the mark.

Define what matters most to you upfront so that you aren’t just leaning on your “gut” to help you find a strategic fit. 

Once you have each of these pre-work pieces defined, you have one last step to pull all of your pre-work together.

Create a Scorecard

A scorecard is a straightforward way to rate and objectively compare candidates.  This will keep you from getting distracted by anecdotal qualities like common interests or experiences. These can absolutely enhance a work partnership, but your hiring choices shouldn’t be rooted on such subjective standards. 

To create your scorecard, first, choose the categories you’d like to rate (hint: use the pre-work above). Make sure to include ALL important factors like values, communication style, skills, etc. Then, you can create a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 for each of your criteria.

You’ll have a clear, at-a-glance assessment of each person’s strengths and weaknesses. You’ll thank yourself for creating this ahead of time so that you can use it immediately after each interview while the candidate is top of mind.

Start Your Search

Now it’s time to seek out candidates! 

But…where to begin?!

Ask Your Network

I always recommend you start with your network. In fact, I do this anytime I’m hiring a team member or outsourcing help for a project. I love referrals from my community because trust is often built-in. Good people know other good people! Referrals are the best jumping-off point, even if you explore other options. 

Post Online

Aside from your immediate network, you can also leverage social media and online platforms. Announce that you’re hiring on your Instagram page, share the news in a Facebook Group, or post to a traditional job board.


Got a case of “FOMO” (fear of missing out)?

You might be tempted to interview anyone and everyone who applies. I cannot say this in plainer terms:


Your time is limited (and valuable). Spending hours, weeks, or even MONTHS interviewing every applicant isn’t sustainable! You’ll burn out before you even get a chance to finish the interview process. Plus, you won’t be as present for each interview, which ends up wasting your time and your candidates’ time.

So, how to choose?

Here’s how to pre-screen your candidates:

  1. Email or send a DM. Chatting with the candidate through these platforms can help you get some initial screening questions answered. If you’re interested in moving forward, you might inquire about their general compensation expectations. Getting this information upfront can help you ensure their needs align with your budget before investing more time and energy into the interview process.

  2. Check out their website. Some service providers will post their services and rates, which may help you weed out the people who don’t fit the criteria you set during your interview pre-work. 

  3. Review their resume, portfolio, or CV. If they don’t send one along, you can also check out their profile on LinkedIn to explore their past experiences and education. Make sure they seem to line up with what you need.

COO Tip: Pay attention to communication and timing during the pre-screening process. It’s not just WHAT they say (although that is important), but HOW they say it. Communication during the screening process can reveal a lot about how a person works and what their communication style is like. Plus, it gives you a glimpse into what it might be like to work together! 

Schedule Interviews

Let’s get this party started! All of this preparation has led you to this exciting moment! But don’t rush in without a plan (can you tell there’s a theme here?!) 

As the Girlscouts say…”BE PREPARED!”

Here’s how to schedule your interviews like a PRO:

  1. Choose 5 Candidates. Once you’ve screened your candidates, it’s time to narrow it down! With YEARS of experience hiring for employers, COO clients, and my own business, I’ve found that FIVE is the magic number (but choose at least three MINIMUM)! Five is the “Goldilocks Effect.” You have a large enough pool of people to weigh the options and compare credentials. It also isn’t too many people that you feel overwhelmed keeping track of who’s who. Plus, you can manageably schedule three to five interviews within a week without impeding on your regular work schedule too significantly.
  1. Schedule all five interviews during the same week. Don’t let the process drag on forever! Interviewing within a tight time frame ensures there isn’t too much time between meetings. You’ll be able to compare candidates honestly and with a fresh memory.

The Interview

Now you are SO ready to rock these interviews! The planning and preparation you’ve done will help you find the right hire for your needs. Your passion, preparedness, and purpose will shine through. Here are the essential points you’ll want to hit come interview time:

  1. Start with general introductions and formalities. It can be helpful to “small talk” a bit as you’re getting familiar, but be mindful that you don’t get carried away with chatting about places, people, or interests in common that aren’t directly related to the position. I don’t say this to be stuffy (I value relationships in business TREMENDOUSLY), but talking about the weather can EASILY derail any meeting faster than you’d think.

  2. Have the candidate introduce themselves so they can share a bit about their experiences and expertise.

  3. Ask your prepared Interview Questions.

  4. Give them a rundown of your business, the job, your values, and your mission.

  5. Leave time and space for the candidate to ask questions. This shouldn’t be a one-sided conversation. Their questions will reveal a lot about their hopes and goals around this opportunity.  

  6. Be honest. Let the candidate know if you’re interviewing other applicants and be transparent about where you are in the process. 

  7. Set clear expectations for next steps. There’s nothing quite as anxiety-inducing as waiting in limbo after an interview! Give clear timelines and stick to them. Also, be sure to request anything you need from them. For example, if you are hiring a contractor, you may request that they send you a project proposal. 

  8. Take notes! You’ll want to be able to look back to compare all candidates and capture the more nuanced things or important details.


It’s decision time! 

Use Your Scorecard

I told you you’d thank yourself for creating this earlier!

Be sure to use your scorecard immediately after each interview while it is fresh in your mind.

Review Your Notes

Take notes throughout the interview so you can look back at crucial information or details. Compare these notes to your scorecard as you weigh the pros and cons of each candidate.

Gut Check

Trust your gut! You’ve done the heavy lifting and assessed each of your five candidates as objectively as possible. Numbers aside, at the end of the day, YOU have to work with this person. Do you enjoy their personality, energy, and work style? Does this person feel like they’ll be a good fit in the overall culture of your business? 

Budget Check

Do the numbers add up? Go back to your budget range, review your books, and maybe even consult your accountant to make sure that this person’s salary makes sense for the current state of your business. 

Make sure the money lines up:

  • If they are a contractor, do their fees fall within your budget? 
  • If they are a hire, do they fall within the salary range you have budgeted? (remember: you’re looking for the best candidate you can afford. Be realistic about this decision!)

Sometimes there is room for negotiation here. Sometimes there is not. Be honest with that. Check your values to see if that is something you even want to discuss.

Your goal is to find the person who meets your criteria, aligns with your values, and works within your budget. 

And… that’s it!

You may decide to do a second round of interviews if you’ve found two or three candidates who check all the right boxes. But essentially you should have all the information you need at this point to make a solid decision. 

Make an Offer!

Last, and certainly not least, it’s time to offer them the position! Document all the terms of your work agreement, clearly define salary or hourly wages, and get ready to onboard your new hire with all the information they need to be successful!

I could chat all DAY about onboarding… but we’ll save that for another time, another blog. 

Take Action

Now, it’s time for you to get started!

I know that hiring your first (and even second or third) team member is a BIG decision because I’ve been there too! 

If you want to learn more about my own hiring process, you can peek behind the scenes and read all about it here. I hope that my transparency as not just a business coach but a business owner can help you build your confidence as you grow and scale your own creative business.

If you need any help along the way or want to ask a question, I’m only an email away! I personally respond to every single email I receive. I would LOVE to see YOUR name pop up in my inbox. Click here to drop me a note!

Not ready to hire yet…but know you will in the future? Save the Pin below to Pinterest for later!

  1. […] job description, gathered resumes, compiled a list of the most qualified candidates, rattled off interview questions like a BOSS, and ultimately found the perfect person to fill the most significant needs of your […]

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