It’s easy to get nervous when you’re interviewing for a job. But what most people don’t realize is, it’s stressful for the interviewer too. Now you’re the one asking the questions and hoping to make the right decision. That’s why interviewing your first employee is especially tricky. Here are a few questions that should be on your list to get the insight you need to find someone who will fit in with your small business.
Why are you interested in this job? Why do you want to leave your current job?
These questions can give you insight into an applicant’s motivation. Do they just need a job or are they looking for a better fit? The second question can identify potential issues that cause dissatisfaction. If the same issues exist in your business, it may not be a good fit. It also gives you a glimpse at what environment is needed for them to do their best work. Can your business provide that environment?
What skills and strengths can you bring to this position? Why should I hire you?
With either of these questions, you want the applicant to describe what skills they have and how they would help your business succeed. That requires candidates to have done some prior research on your company and what you provide to customers. It’s a chance to assess how prepared they are and their ability to connect with what you do.
Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult customer. How did you resolve the issue?
This type of open-ended question requires the applicant to answer with more than a couple of words. You’re trying to get a sense for how they handle difficult situations with customers. Listen for details here. Do they provide enough information for you to understand the issue? How did they solve the problem and was it appropriate? Feel free to ask a follow-up question if you did not get the detail you need. Keep in mind that their answer is more than what they say. It’s their nonverbal response too. For example, do they make eye contact?
Describe a time when you had to overcome a major obstacle on the job. How did you overcome it?
Here’s a chance to look at their problem-solving ability. How do they approach a challenge? Do they ask for help if needed? Did they check to see if their solution resolved the problem? You also get a sense for how creative or innovative they are based on the solution they used. You may not be able to supervise them every minute so you want someone who has the skill set to assess a situation and respond appropriately.
What questions do you have for me?
This question can help you assess their engagement. Questions like “How much does it pay?” or “Do I have to work on weekends?” can characterize applicants who are more interested in what you can do for them, rather than how they can help you. More engaged candidates tend to ask questions like “What is your management style?” or “What is it like to work here?” It shows they’re thinking about whether this is a good fit.
The questions you ask a job candidate can determine whether the first employee you hire is the right one. Start with these questions and ask follow-up questions to get more details if needed.