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Gain Insight About Potential Hires With These 5 Interview Questions

July 31, 2018 - 1:00 pm

The process of finding new employees can be time-consuming and frustrating, regardless of the size or scope of the business. One crucial part of the hiring process is to ask the right interview questions, and equally important is knowing which questions should not be asked. For example, federal law prohibits interviewers from asking applicants about their age, religion and lifestyle. Asking fun “psychological” questions that don’t have a solid basis for interpretation can also be problematic. “If you were an animal, what kind would you be?” is not a good question, unless you have solid data showing that cheetahs make better or worse employees than polar bears or guinea pigs.

Here are five interview questions that will help you gain valuable insight into your interviewees' personality and skill set to help you decide whether he or she has what it takes to fill the open position at your company.


Why do you want to work here?

Learning a potential hire's motivations for applying to your company can be valuable information in the hiring decision process. Factors may include pay and benefits, work hours, company culture or potential for advancement. The answer to this question will also indicate whether your interviewee took the time to research the company before applying. Unless the response is “to earn money for a getaway car,” there are no wrong answers, just the opportunity to learn how the applicant’s career goals fit with the company’s vision.


What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This question is used frequently, and for good reason. On-the-spot, instant self-evaluation can be very revealing, and it also shows how quickly the applicant can think on his feet. It's good to know if your candidate's strengths align with the qualifications necessary to do the job well.


Why did you leave your previous job and why are you looking for a new job?

There are many benefits to learning why a person left or wants to leave her current or previous position or company. The candidate's answer can also tell you a lot about her personality. Is she answering in a positive way and highlighting the opportunity for growth by leaving her current position or is she taking the low road and bad-mouthing her former company or employer?


What did or do you enjoy most about your previous or current job?

The answer to this question will give you insight into what keeps this candidate happy at a job. If you choose to hire him, you'll have a good idea as to what motivates him to do well and work his hardest for an employer. It also allows you to discount any interviewees who can't come up with a single good thing to say about their former job, or feels the best thing about his last job was his company parking spot.


How would you approach this conflict?

Come up with a few real-world scenarios of common conflicts someone in the position you're hiring for might face, and ask candidates how they'd handle the situation. This allows you to get a sense of how your interviewee might approach common problems he or she is likely to experience in the workplace, and can also help identify areas in which the candidate could benefit from additional training.


This article was written by Valerie Heimerich for Small Business Pulse