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Behavioral job interviews offer a glimpse of what could be

Once an employer identifies a prospect for an open position and sets up an interview, another great challenge arises: How do you effectively use the interview to determine whether this person is right for your organization?

One way is behavioral interviewing — a technique in which you frame your questions to candidates to elicit real-world stories from previous work experience. The answers your interviewees give can offer a glimpse of what could be.

Examples to consider

It’s important to structure your questions so that the candidate can’t reply with only a “yes” or “no” answer. In some cases, your “questions” might not literally be questions.

For example, if you’re looking for a customer service rep, you could say, “Tell me about a time you’ve had to handle a dissatisfied customer.” Look for detailed responses that appear honest and heartfelt.

Or let’s say the open position is for a manager or executive. You might ask something along the lines of, “Talk about a situation in which you wer…

How to avoid getting hit with payroll tax penalties

For small businesses, managing payroll can be one of the most arduous tasks. Adding to the burden earlier this year was adjusting income tax withholding based on the new tables issued by the IRS. (Those tables account for changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.) But it’s crucial not only to withhold the appropriate taxes — including both income tax and employment taxes — but also to remit them on time to the federal government.

If you don’t, you, personally, could face harsh penalties. This is true even if your business is an entity that normally shields owners from personal liability, such as a corporation or limited liability company.

The 100% penalty

Employers must withhold federal income and employment taxes (such as Social Security) as well as applicable state and local taxes on wages paid to their employees. The federal taxes must then be remitted to the federal government according to a deposit schedule.

If a business makes payments late, there are escalating penalties. And if it…

Business deductions for meal, vehicle and travel expenses: Document, document, document

Meal, vehicle and travel expenses are common deductions for businesses. But if you don’t properly document these expenses, you could find your deductions denied by the IRS.

A critical requirement

Subject to various rules and limits, business meal (generally 50%), vehicle and travel expenses may be deductible, whether you pay for the expenses directly or reimburse employees for them. Deductibility depends on a variety of factors, but generally the expenses must be “ordinary and necessary” and directly related to the business.

Proper documentation, however, is one of the most critical requirements. And all too often, when the IRS scrutinizes these deductions, taxpayers don’t have the necessary documentation.

What you need to do

Following some simple steps can help ensure you have documentation that will pass muster with the IRS:

Keep receipts or similar documentation. You generally must have receipts, canceled checks or bills that show amounts and dates of business expenses. If you’re deduc…