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The Best Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees

Few things are as important to your business’ success as having the right employees on board. That means knowing how to manage your employees effectively and keep them motivated. It also means hiring the right employees in the first place. A lot of small business owners try to just wing their interviews with candidates. However, if you want to feel confident you’re hiring the best people, it’s important to put the time into preparing for the interview (maybe even as much effort and advance planning as the prospective employees.)

How do you hire the best employees? First be clear on the type of experience, skills, and attitude needed for the job. If you don’t know what kind of background is needed for the role how will you know what you’re looking for? After you’ve identified the key qualities, write a job description that accurately describes the role and what you’re looking for. Then review the applications with these in mind. Remember it’s illegal to discriminate based on race, colour, sex, religion, sexual orientation, age, political opinion, marital or relationship status, ‘national extraction’, ‘social origin’ and a whole host of other things. This is important to remember both when writing your job description, and when you choose your interview questions; ‘Where’s your family from?’, ‘How old are you?’ and ‘Do you have kids?’ are off the table. We’ll go over some good interview questions in a minute. Important work has been done recently examining our unconscious biases in hiring. It’s important to familiarise yourself with these ideas and consider removing names and gender from CVs, so you hire the best people for the job.

When you’ve got your shortlist of candidates to interview, you should create a list of interview questions to ask potential employees that will assess their ability to do the job well.

If you want to hire an employee who might eventually grow to take on more responsibilities, then you’re looking for a motivated go-getter. You should ask them interview questions that get at drive and goals. If you’re hiring for a role that manages other employee’s constantly-shifting schedules, you’ll need someone who’s good at problem solving. You’ll want to ask them interview questions that give you a clear understanding of their communication skills and how they handle difficult situations.

While many of your interview questions will be tailored to the specific position, here’s a list of the best interview questions to ask potential employees that many HR professionals feel are especially helpful:

  • What types of work environments do you most thrive in?
  • What types of work environments aren’t a good fit for you?
  • How would you make a significant contribution to this business? What motivates you?
  • What interested you in this role and this business? Why did you leave your last job?/Why are you looking for a new job?
  • Who was the best manager you’ve ever had? Why?
  • If I were to reach out to your references, what do you think they’d say about you?
  • If you could do it all over, what would you have done differently in your career?
  • What’s the most challenging work situation you’ve ever been in? How did you make it right?
  • Describe your work style. How do you collaborate with others?
  • What do you see as the three most important traits or skills you’d bring to this job?
  • What would your past co-workers say about you and their interactions with you?
  • Where do you see yourself in a year’s time? How about three years? Five?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

If you ask these interview questions to potential employees, you’ll leave with a better sense of what each candidate is all about. Naturally they’ll also need the hard skills to do the job well, but asking these types of ‘softer’ questions are key as well. Good luck!

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