7 Interview Questions for Any Prospective Employee
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Many small-business owners may think that finding their next employee can be as simple as drafting a comprehensive job- and work-culture description, posting it to a public board and waiting for the applicants to arrive to their inbox. It's also commonly assumed with enough upfront detail, candidates have already taken some of the initial steps to self-select before applying. This kind of thinking can lead hiring managers to neglect some of the subjective methods that can (and should) be deployed to validate that the best possible candidates are appropriately matched for any eventual hiring decision.
This cannot be overstated. A well-travelled quote from Google Ventures partner Joe Kraus that I hear repeated often in startup circles rings true: “The cost of hiring someone bad is much greater than missing out on someone good.” Whether the intention is to hire an entry or senior-level role in your organization, assuring "best fit" of skills, temperament and cultural alignment is of equivalent importance.
I regularly advise clients to pursue methods of inquiry that deeper into discovery of innate character alignment to the company culture. While numerous behavioral- and personality-profile models exist to lean on, I've spent two decades developing a series of questions that have consistently helped to bring some critical characteristics to the surface in an interview. Here are seven of them, with examples of how they might be articulated.
1. A question that delves into past experiences within working cultures and extrapolates where future environments may/may not align. For example: Creating the right culture is important for our company. Can you share details on a time you were in a toxic work environment, and how did management handle the situation? Describe when you were in a wonderful work environment and what management did correctly.
2. Deciphering how the candidates prefer to be managed as a key to ensuring management-style alignment. For example: Taking guidance from leaders is a critical part of any working arrangement. Describe how you like to be managed and how would you describe the ideal leader for your personality style?
3. Understanding motivations and expectations for long-term engagement. For example: We believe in long-term retention, and so we are cautious on the type of candidate we onboard. If you were going to commit to helping build this company long-term, what would it take for you to be happy and motivated?
4. Perspectives on their self-awareness of personal growth objectives and needs. For example: We all have challenges we are working to overcome. If you had to assess your challenges, where would be areas that you would focus to develop and look for support to improve?
5. Communication competence and tolerance for different interaction styles. For example: We all have different communication and coordination styles. What is the method you most effectively consolidate new information to inform your work, and what is your preferred communication style to align with your leadership and stakeholders?
6. Determining ability and comfort to advocate for their ideas and opinions. For example: You have had a chance to review our company information. If you were asked to come up with an innovative method for us to increase revenue or reduce expenses, what options might you propose?
7. Understanding potential "no-fly zones," such as personal moral imperatives. For example: Our goal is to have employees as strong promoters of the company and believers in the mission and objectives. Can you provide some scenarios that would force you to reconsider your commitment to the company and potentially part ways?
Related: Job Interview Preparation Checklist
While there are no guarantees that any candidate will be the perfect match, these questions will increase the likelihood of finding a long-term employee to augment and strengthen your workforce.