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Time to hire? Interview techniques to find the right person

May 31, 2023/in Hiring

Hiring your first or next employee is both stressful and exciting. Every business owner wants to find the right candidate who fits their mission and has the skills needed to perform. How can you use the interview process to identify this person?

Prepare for the Interview

The most important step in interviewing is preparing for it. The prep work is often skipped because either we feel confident in interviewing or time is rushed. This lack of preparation, however, is often what leads to bad interviews or bad hires.

Before the candidate arrives, spend time thinking about the role and what questions are important to ask. What skills do you need to ensure they have? What work experience would be beneficial to you? What qualities in a candidate are you looking for (e.g., punctuality, competitiveness, kind, etc.)?

Review the candidate’s resume and take note of any questions you may have about it. Perhaps you’re curious about certain experiences, management types, work gaps, etc.

With all of this in mind, write down every question you want to ask. Writing down your questions will ensure you can actively listen to the answers given without worrying about your next question. This step also creates consistency which makes comparing candidates easier and more effective.

Questions to Ask

To gather the most information quickly, ask 3 types of questions: Informational, Behavioral and Situational.

Informational questions gather technical information about the candidate’s background.

  • Education, gaps of employment, industry experience, technical skills, etc.

Behavioral questions are those that ask a candidate to think back over their work experience and tell you how they demonstrated certain behaviors. For example:

  • Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer.

  • Describe a situation where you disagreed with leadership, what did you do?

Situational questions ask about hypothetical situations, such as:

  • If you were a manager here, how would you manage an employee who arrives late every day?

  • How would you handle a customer who started yelling at you because their order is wrong?

Mixing these three styles of questions will help you understand the candidate’s background and more importantly, how they think.

What Not to Ask

Knowing what not to ask in an interview is equally important because asking the wrong questions can give your company a bad reputation, cause you to hire the wrong candidate or worse, find yourself in a lawsuit.

Questions not to ask are any questions with respect to age, race, gender, family, hobbies, religion, or sexual preferences. In the same way, be sure not to unintentionally ask these questions either. For example, avoid questions such as:

  • I went to that high school too, when did you graduate? (Asking age)

  • Do you have any kids? (Asking about family and/or sexual orientation)

Whether you are new to interviewing or a seasoned professional, prioritize preparing for your next interviews and you will find great success.


Written by Emily Niehaus, Owner and Small Business HR Consultant at SBHR


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