Interviews are a notoriously nervy experience for the person being interviewed, but they can be just as nerve-shredding for the person doing the interviewing. If you’re a small to medium business owner, bringing someone else into your company is a big change. You need them to adapt to the culture and mood of your workplace, and you need them to start producing quickly. Unlike a massive corporation, a small business can’t afford to have passengers. When somebody new comes in, they have to hit the ground running. That means it’s essential you get the right candidate at the first time of asking.
Unfortunately, getting the right candidate isn’t as easy as picking the person with the best resume and the most confident answers. There’s more to it than that. Anyone who’s been through the recruitment process before knows it can feel a little like playing online slots. When someone’s playing games at an online slots website and isn’t happy with the results they’re getting, they just pump in more money and spin the reels again until they get a result they’re happy with. That’s easy to do if we’re still talking about literal online slots, where each spin is just a few dollars, and the process happens in seconds. Each “spin” with recruitment is at least a month’s salary, and then a delay of a few weeks before you can bring in a replacement.
You can reduce the chances of having to spin again by asking the right questions during interviews, thus pushing candidates to give you better insight into their personalities and suitability for the role you’re offering. Those questions should be open-ended and give your candidate freedom to talk.
Here are a few of our favourites:
Why Are You Looking For A New Job?
You can ask this question whether your candidate currently has a job or not. If they don’t have a job, the question forces them to explain what happened to their last one. If they do have a job, you’ll get an insight into what they look for in a role and what might persuade them to give up on it if they’re not happy. There are various reasons why people might want to quit a job, and not all of them are related to money. Think carefully about the answers they give. Someone who says they feel like it’s “time for a change” might not be likely to stick with you for the long haul. Someone who has issues with the requirements of their current job might have similar problems with the requirements of yours. People’s likes and dislikes in the workplace are very revealing, and this question is a good way to discover them.
What’s Your Biggest Weakness?
Candidates absolutely hate this question. That’s exactly why you should ask it. It forces them to present themselves in a less-than-perfect light at a time when they’ve come to sell themselves to you, so you get to watch them think on the spot. Some websites have issued advice on how to answer this question perfectly, so watch out for those stock answers. An honest person should be able to give you a good answer to this question without making themselves sound unsuitable for the position you’re offering. If they can’t, they’re probably not the person you’re looking for.
What Should Make Me Want To Hire You?
Your candidate is there to sell themselves to you, so let them sell. This is an open invitation for them to explain why they’re the perfect person for the job and why they should get the nod ahead of anybody else you might be interviewing. They should have clear, concise, and compelling reasons why they deserve to work for you. Look out for cliches and vague answers, and make notes as they talk. If they claim to have certain positive traits or that they’ve achieved specific things while they’re making their pitch, pick up on those things and ask for more information when they’re done pitching.
What’s Your Career Path?
Unless you’re recruiting someone who’s going to work side by side with you at the top of the company, your potential new employee shouldn’t want to stick in their potential new role forever. You want ambitious people working for you because ambitious people go the extra mile to demonstrate that they’re worthy of promotion. How far does your candidate believe they can go? How long do they imagine it’s going to take them to get there? Do they have a “bigger goal” that involves working in a role or industry outside of your company? These tidbits of information should come out in their answer to this question. If they tell you they want to stay in the role you’re offering for the next five years, politely thank them for their time and end the interview.
Tell Me About Yourself
The easiest and yet most important question of them all. Work is only part of somebody’s life, no matter how important their work might be. There’s a whole other side to them that only comes out when they’re away from work. You’re employing both sides of the person, not just the side you see at work. A good answer to this question is one that gives you a well-rounded picture of the person as an individual, not just their work persona. If they go straight into what they’re capable of at work, redirect them.
You’re not asking for personal information or intimate details of what goes on in their private life – just an overview of what interests them and makes them tick. You might hear things that make you think they’d fit within your company perfectly, but you might also hear things that tell you that they’ll never be a good fit in a million years. That’s why it’s so important to ask!
Most importantly of all, don’t ask them things you already know. If you’re going to ask them to repeat things that are already printed on their resume, there’s no point in inviting them in for an interview. Make a couple of points from their resume if you think they’re worth talking about, but the focus of the interview should be the person, not the dates, names, and statistics that make up their career. Interview people rather than their professional personas, and you’ll find that you end up with better employees.
*Photos by Edmond Dantès