Anyone who has ever had to conduct an interview knows just how difficult it can be. After all, someone who looks good on paper isn’t always going to be the best fit for your small business and you only have a few minutes to figure that out. So, asking the right interview questions is imperative if you want to hire the right person for the position. What are those questions?
Well, just the other day I was helping my aunt interview for an open position in her small town bakery and I wondered the same thing. So, I set out to find the answer and it appears that the best questions to ask depend entirely upon what kind of skills the position entails.
For example, if the position requires that the person works well with a team, you’ll want to know if your applicant “gets along with others.” Here are some questions that can help you determine that:
- Do you prefer working individually or as part of a team? People excel where they are happiest, so someone that prefers working with others would likely do better in this type of position than someone that would rather work alone.
- Give me examples of past projects or positions that entailed working as part of a team. Asking specifically about experiences within a team setting will allow you not only to gauge how much experience they have, but it may also spark more questions that can provide even more information.
- How do you handle conflict with others? This question is crucial because all teams experience conflict from time to time, making handling it appropriately necessary to the cohesiveness and effectiveness of the team as a whole.
Another skill required for certain positions within a small business is being a good leader. Even if the open job isn’t technically in management, an applicant’s ability to be self-motivated may be important. These types of questions will help you determine if these qualities are present:
- What qualities do you think a good leader should have? Not only will the answer give you some insight into what the applicant thinks a good leader is, but you can also follow up with whether or not they believe they have those qualities. Plus, this question will also tell you what the person is going to expect from the people who are in leadership roles with your small business.
- What types of achievements have you experienced in your role as a leader? The answer to this question will tell you a couple of different things. First, you’ll learn whether or not the person has been a successful leader. Second, you will be able to tell by the response whether the applicant takes all of the credit for team successes or if the team is credited as well. A true leader doesn’t take the accolades and will boast about the team as a whole.
- Describe a time when you’ve had to motivate someone that you worked with. Part of being a successful team leader is motivating others, so this question will help you learn how your applicant achieves this task.
Sometimes, you want to make sure the person you hire is trustworthy. Whether the position requires handling money or other assets, or if you just want to sleep better at night knowing that your small business is in good hands, there are two questions that can help you determine this with a potential employee.
- Has there ever been a time when your integrity or character was questioned? Some people may not want to admit if this is the case, but their body language will likely reveal the truth even if their mouth does not. And if they do answer with a “yes,” then you should follow up by asking them to explain the situation.
- What would you do if you saw a co-worker take (insert an item in your business that could have a high theft rate, such as printer paper or other office supplies)? Admittedly, some people will say that they would report it even when they wouldn’t just to tell you what they think you want to hear, but others will openly admit that they wouldn’t do anything because they wouldn’t want to get involved. Also, if they say that they would report it, it gives you the opportunity to find out who they would report it to, which reveals whether or not they will honor the chain of command that you’ve set.
In some positions, the person has to have an exceptional ability to communicate. This is true for most anyone that works directly with the public, whether in sales or service, as well as positions that are team-based or require working one-on-one with colleagues or vendors. Of course, you’ll likely get a taste of this skill during the interview process as they are communicating their education and experience to you verbally, but there are a couple of questions you can ask to find out more.
- How do you handle it when someone disagrees with you? If someone can communicate effectively even when they’re faced with a disagreement or negatively charged situation, then they generally have good communication skills overall.
- If you’re trying to sell me something and I say no, what do you do? This is a good question for a sales position to learn what type of salesperson your applicant is.
Hiring the right person for your small business may just depend on what questions you ask at the interview. Now you have a few that will tell you if their skills will meet your needs.