||When it comes to
interviewing potential employees, you need to ask the loaded
because hiring the right people is central to the continuing growth
and success of your business. So you need to use your interview
wisely -- to identify job skills, target personal strengths and
weaknesses, and get a feel for someone's sense of teamwork and
cooperation. But that doesn't mean you have to wallow in a
snooze-inducing "Do you work well with others?" spiel. You can
interview like an expert -- and get information you ask for, and
"undercover" feedback that plays a key role in hiring decisions.
Give some thought to the
following six interview questions, all of which reveal more about
the interviewee than you might think -- or, for that matter, more
than they might want you to know.
1. If you stayed with your current
company, what would be your next move?
This is a great opener that elicits information on several levels. Not
only can you get a sense of what the applicant expects -- and in turn, how
that jibes with the positions you're looking to fill -- but you might also
tap into an underlying reason why the applicant wants to move on. "If the
applicant says he wants to be a manager but the person above him has been
there for 25 years, you can move on with the interview. But, if he says that
he would hope to be promoted in six months, why would he leave that job? You
may then get to the real reason why he wants to leave the company," notes
Paul Falcone, author of "The Hiring and Firing Question and Answer
2. What makes you stand out from
Another provocative query, great in part because most people get a little
uncomfortable boosting themselves. Taking on that question in a reasoned
manner may indicate someone with a good amount of self-esteem and some
courage. By contrast, a tepid self-description can suggest a lack of
gumption, something that's a handicap if you're looking to fill a
challenging sales position. By the same token, an applicant who launches
into a half-hour filibuster of why the Earth and several major planets
revolve at his command may have an ego surplus, one that could devastate a
business built around close teamwork.
3. Tell me about your greatest
An ideal follow-up to question #2, an applicant who can recall a
particularly satisfying project -- and talk about it in a balanced,
comprehensive fashion -- indicates an employee who has a knack for hanging
onto important details. But the question can also hint at an applicant who's
good at thinking on her feet -- again, most of us feel weird =talking about
ourselves. If someone can piece together a provocative anecdote on the fly,
they likely will be mentally nimble on demand. As Falcone notes, "Even the
receptionist who says she used sticky notes that saved several pieces of fax
paper a day has a good sense of what she did to distinguish herself from
4. Give me an example of a time
when you shared a co-worker's achievement with others.
On the surface, you may be trying to gauge how selfless an interviewee might
be, how readily he'll put others ahead of himself. True enough, but the
answer may also indicate if your potential employee is a strong motivator.
Anyone who makes a point to boost an employee might also be trying to pump
other employees in the process. That's a skill that's particularly useful
for sales and marketing positions. According to Del. J. Still, President of
Management Development System, A Dana Point, California based company that
offers training in interviewing and employee hiring. "These sorts of
questions offer you a multidimensional analysis, so you get different kinds
of information from just one question. In this case, you get a sense of what
actions a person took in a particular situation."
5. How many hours a week do you
need to work to get your job done?
This question serves as a barometer of an applicant's work ethic and the
hours he expects to put in with your company. Follow up questions can
identify whether someone who stays late is putting in extra time or just
working inefficiently. A discussion about work hours also can be a telling
indicator of how he might ultimately fit in with other employees. "You don't
want some with an 8 to 5 mentality working in a place where everyone usually
stays until 7." Falcone says. "By the same token, you don't want someone
working until 7 when everybody else is gone by 5. They're only going to
6. Do you take enough
time to make a decision?
Believe it or not, this last question is one you should pose to yourself
long before the interview is finished. Although it may hint at a business
leader who's able to make sensible choices quickly, it actually refers to
the interviewee sitting across fro you. Believe it or not, Still says some
95% of all interviewers make a decision whether to hire or not within the
first five to nine minutes of an interview. The time remaining is just
self-fulfilling prophecy as the interviewer looks for information to justify
the decision. Don't make the same knee-jerk mistake: "Take lots of notes
during the interview and evaluate him or her later," advises Still. "Don't
ever hire on the spot. Withhold your decision until you can review enough
information to make a rational decision. If you don't, you might end up
putting someone in a job where they're just going to fail."