3 Interview Questions To Use When Hiring To Get The Answers You Need

By Burk Moreland November 22, 2016

Interview Blog .jpgIt is impossible to have anything of value and size without a good foundation. As a builder of homes, companies and people, I understand how important this is in order to support your structure, and in business, your people are the foundation of your operation.  They have the company on their collective shoulders.  The stronger they are, the bigger and stronger the company you can have.

As you grow, you have a choice: hire more people or hire people that are a better fit for your business.  It will take a certain amount of strength to support your business.  I am sure most of you are thinking you would choose quality over quantity, right?  But how do you do that? Do you have training in place on hiring best practices?  How do you know that you are set up to bring in the right people?

This is usually how it goes…

You “just talk to them.”

You “ask them about their previous jobs on their resume.”

You “discuss what skills and talents they have.”

You “tell them about your company and see if it’s a fit.”

While none of these are bad, none of them addresses the real question you I think most people want to know: Who is this person and will they make me look brilliant or like an idiot if I hire them?  If you are honest, if you knew the answer to that question, would you need to ask any others?

So, to help you, here are three questions you should ask in order to determine if your candidate is the right fit for your business (and if they are going to make you look like a rockstar for hiring them).

Question #1:  What were your favorite jobs and what did you do at each of those?  

This question is an easy one as you review the resume.  If you haven’t given them too much information (or posted too much on the job listing), you should get a good idea of what they enjoy and how they enjoy working. 

Question #2:  What activities do you like to do when you aren’t working?  

This question can lead to a host of determinations about the prospective team member.  If she answers golf versus softball, what is the difference?  One is a solo sport where you are solely responsible for your results, the other is very collaborative and requires multiple players to all do their part for the team to win.  What does the position she is interviewing for require?

Question #3:  What else can you tell me about that?  

Ahhhhhh….  My favorite question.  You never know what information you are going to get from this.  I have heard stories of illegal activities, addictions, personal conflicts, and many other things that caused me to question the suitability of a candidate just by asking for more information about a topic.  In addition, it will root out liars pretty quickly.  It is easy to start a lie, it is much harder to stick with it once details are requested.  

An example:  If I ask someone to tell me about a time they provided exemplary customer service and they gave me an example, I might ask, what else can you tell me about that topic (or job or incident)?  They may have more examples, they may tell you how it made them feel, they may struggle to give you anything else.  In any case, you have learned some valuable information.  One of my strongest hiring signals is honesty.  If I believe they are telling me the truth and being real, it allows me to ask more leading questions that are more directly related to the job and have some level of certainty of the quality of the answers.

Bonus Round

The final bonus tool is not a question, it’s quite the opposite. It’s silence. The power of silence is immense.  As humans, most of us are conditioned to want to fill the silence.  When you are sitting in a room with someone, there can be that “awkward silence” people talk about.  That is actually a good thing for an interviewer.  Let them fill the gaps in conversation.  Take your time.  Take notes and read through them and the resume every once in awhile as they answer questions.  After they finish an answer, count to 5 in your head as you really ponder what was just said.  Nod your head subtlely to cue them through body language to keep talking.  Five seconds will feel like an eternity, and many people will start filling in more information that may be of value.  

An example:  Tell me about a boss you had that you liked the least like?  Their answer:  I can’t really think of one (because they don’t want to discuss a negative)… You pause, look at them, look down at their resume, start nodding gently and then look back at them (counting to five in your head).  And then they fill in:  Well, there was this one guy that was a real jerk and liked awkward silences…

Hiring and interviewing is probably the most important facet of your organization outside of the actual product or service you produce.  The people you bring on will be the face of your operation.  I implore you to invest in learning how to do it properly.   Don’t count on a recruiter, friend, HR department or anyone else to sort through people and make the decision for you.  Take charge of your success and own responsibility for the people you hire.  Their success is YOUR responsibility.  It starts when you interview them and goes all the way through retirement. 

So here are some interview questions I would have for you:

  •      Tell me about a time you found a “diamond in the rough” that you turned into a superstar?
  •      What steps do you take to ensure you have the right people on your team?
  •      How often are you training on interviewing skills to be sure your teams “sword stays sharp?”
  •      What would it be worth to you to go from whatever your retention rate is today to double that, AND increase productivity, efficiency and profits?

The honest answers to these questions and more will greatly impact the direction of your business.   Take control of your business and get the right butts in the right seats that push your team to new heights.  You can learn to find the people that have the right traits, energy and ideas that fit your needs.  Once you do, you will wonder why you waited so long and how you ever did it before, I guarantee it. 

Until next time, go make something happen.

Having the right team in place is also a matter of taking good care of your people once hired.  Read this FREE Ebook on how to create a connected, high-performing badass team. 

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