The job market, at least in some professions, has gotten very competitive. Workers in in-demand fields can afford to be picky. Even entry-level positions in retail have become harder to fill, as the number of job openings has exceeded the number of people looking for work.

That creates some major challenges for small-business owners. It can be hard not just to attract the people you need, but sometimes it's difficult to even bring in candidates.

To be competitive and land the people you need, it's important to remove pain points in the hiring process. That might mean making some small sacrifices, but it should make it easier to land the staff required to operate your business.

A help wanted sign

Hanging out a sign may no longer enough. Image source: Getty Images.

Fix a broken process

Someone close to me got a new job last year. It's a wonderful position with better pay, increased benefits, and all sorts of other processes, but the hiring process was a challenge.

She had to interview three times during the middle of three separate work days. Since she had a job -- and doesn't like to lie to her boss -- she had to take off three half-days to be available. It was awkward, and her boss at the time probably had her suspicions. It was also a process she couldn't repeat regularly, which led to her turning down interviews when she was pretty sure she didn't want the job, usually after a phone interview.

As an employer, there are three important things you can do to smooth out the interview process. These involve making it less convenient for yourself but easier for the potential employee.

  1. Minimize how many interviews are needed: Some of the larger technology companies interview using a "loop." A candidate meets with one or two people and then gets handed off to the decision-maker if things go well. That keeps the process to a single day.
  2. Offer night and weekend slots: It's inconvenient, but if you're interviewing someone who has a job, be considerate of their time and their current employer.
  3. Drop the dress code: Most people dress up for an interview, which is a good idea. The only exception is if the potential employer says, "I know you're coming for work, so whatever you wear to the office is fine."

All of these things make it easier for the potential employee to attend an interview. That may allow to get meetings with candidates who otherwise may have passed.

Think of their needs

An employer who conducts interviews in a way that makes it easy for potential hires will stand out. The candidate is likely to appreciate the flexibility and that you put this level of thought into the process. Most will think that this type of thinking probably translates well into how you operate your company -- and hopefully it does.

Most interview setups are based on the company's having something the worker wants more than the company wants the worker. That may no longer be the case, so it's important for you, as a small-business owner or manager, to adapt.