BizTips – To Get Good Hires, Ask Great Questions

 Now, is the time of year when all small businesses are in the hiring mode.  A business consultant once said that the task is not just getting people on the bus, but getting them in the right seats on the bus.  Finding people is double-tough today but finding the right people is a tougher job especially today with so few candidates available in the labor pool.

Interviewing candidates needs to be thought of as a dialogue or a conversation, not an interrogation.  It is not, ask a question, get an answer – ask another question, get another answer.  The candidate’s answer should lead you to a dialogue that will provide you with insight into whether the candidate will fit in with the culture of your business.  The two most important words that generate the best replies are “Tell me…”.    Co-founder and CEO of Koru, Kristen Hamilton thinks you should be asking questions of candidates to test them on seven characteristics: Grit, Rigor, Impact, Teamwork, Ownership, Curiosity, and Polish.  Try some of these questions, but think about where you will take the conversation depending on the reply you receive.

Tell me about yourself.  Give me a summary of you that does not just repeat what is in your resume. 

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses we should know about?  Ask the candidate to provide concrete, tangible job skills and actual anecdotes of both strengths and weaknesses that will apply to the work for which they are applying.

What did you like most and least about your last job?  Ask the candidate to try to tie their answer to the needs of the job for which they are applying.

Why do you want to work here?  This is a way for candidates to convince you that they have what it takes to fulfill your job requirements.  It will show you if they truly understand your organization and what you are seeking. 

If you are seeking to address the values that a candidate will bring to the job, try these questions suggest by Koru CEO, Hamilton:

Grit:  Tell us about a time you wanted something so badly that there was nothing that was going to stop you from achieving it.

Rigor:  Tell us about a time you used data to make a decision.  What was the complexity of the data used, how they used it, and what kind of thinking was employed to address the issue. 

Impact:  Tell us about a time that you had a measurable (quantitative) impact on your job or an organization in which you were engaged.  Or tell us about someone you admire that generated an impact on your life or the lives of others.

Teamwork:  Ask, what is the most difficult aspect of working in a team environment vs. working independently.  Or ask the candidate to describe a situation where working on a team did not quite work and why.

Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor, and Koru. Contact SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands for FREE and confidential mentoring.  We have human resource subject matter experts that can assist you with personnel issues., [email protected], 508/775-4884.