When you own a business, it is critical that you have a full staff at all times. It is also critical that you do not hire any employees without a lengthy interview process that acquires them to show up on time, bring a list of references and explain in an appropriate manner, why they want to work for your company in particular. By avoiding this process, you are potentially putting yourself and your business in the line of fire by failing to become informed of their work history, ethics and intentions of sitting in your office.
Always Be on Time
When you set up an interview with any employee, the first thing you should look for is whether or not they show up to their interview on time. If for some reason they do, there should be no excuses. What you are looking for in an employee is someone who can make it in to work on time, even when their personal life has a few bumps in the road, not an employee who has excuses every day for being late. The common mistake made with this part of the interview is hiring them even after they have shown up late.
If an applicant shows up with an application without any references, it should raise some concern to you as the manager. The only way this should ever be accepted is if they were in the military, or if they are just becoming of age to start working. When someone is in their 30's and does not have even one good reference, they should automatically be eliminated from the list, not given a chance because you're desperate for more employees.
What are Their Intentions?
When someone walks into your office, your first question should always be based around the reasoning behind their visit. The obvious reason is the interview, but what you really want to ask is why they picked this job in particular and how they can contribute to your business. Without asking these questions you could have possibly hired someone that is just looking to kill time before finding a new, better paying position.