Interviews are the short sliver of time we get with potential employees before adding them to the company family. For our interviews, we use a handful of “typical” interview questions to get to know the applicant, their motivations, their ethics and their personality. There are a few questions that we use that, to me, really show how well the employee will work out here. Adding these to your artillery might help you understand some important aspects of your applicants before you hire them. My favorite questions are:
- Do you consider yourself competitive? If so, in what circumstances and in what ways? This question will let you know if you have a go getter on your hands. With an office full of go getters, I am always surprised when people give me a qualified “yes” explaining that they are competitive in their personal life, maybe in board games or something, but are not competitive and actually resist competition in their work life. This is a great insight into their work ethic and how they might help our company evolve and grow. We need competitive people and look for people who are always trying to get ahead. I assume some people equate competitiveness with mean-spiritedness, but not understanding that you can be friendly and a go getter also means that they would probably not be a good fit here.
- How do you handle questions and problems that exceed your knowledge or experience? This question helps me figure out if the applicant has the ability to think outside of the box and use their skills to solve problems, or if their default is to just ask for help. Our company is always looking for better ways to get our work done and if our employees are always thinking of ideas of ways to get things accomplished we will be better off. We want to see a balance between asking questions and figuring those questions out on your own.
- What disadvantages do you see working for a small, growing company like ourselves? I don’t appreciate it when an applicant doesn’t have an answer to any question that we ask, but this one in particular almost makes me laugh when someone doesn’t have an answer. Many times when I ask this question, people will say that they don’t think there are any disadvantages for working for a small, growing company. It makes me think they have little knowledge about business in general. I want to hear an honest opinion of what someone’s anticipated challenges will be with our company and through that explanation, an expectation of how they would look at those challenges. There are some really great aspects of working at a small, agile and growing company like this one, but we all know that there are some serious setbacks as well.
- How do you handle making mistakes? Tell me a specific time where you made a mistake and how you handled it. This might make me sound like a curmudgeon, but I really think that people “these days” just don’t take responsibility! If you make a mistake, handle your business. The last thing I want to be doing as a boss is trying to figure out whom messed-up and why, I just want to work on fixing it. Our company needs individuals that know when they make a mistake, and takes responsibility so we can all move on to the fix it phase. Taking responsibility and initiative is a great character quality that will show up in many great aspects of this employee and a sure sign of a mature and trustworthy person.
If these questions aren’t used during your interview process, I would suggest adding them in and seeing if you get the same satisfying and useful answers that I have found with their use.