When you’re hiring for a position in your business, it’s important to ask the right interview questions to find people who are a good fit. This will help you weed out the “crazies” and find the best possible candidate for the job. It’s also important to be prepared for the interview with your questions.

An ideal hiring process doesn’t rely on one person’s opinion. It’s best when a candidate can be interviewed by 2 or 3 people in your organization. Perhaps managers first, who will narrow down the list, and then you as the owner, as the final step.

Having a variety of opinions and perspectives about the candidates allows you to see past personal biases or see things that you might have missed during the interview.

How To Prepare For Hiring Interviews

Just like in Scouts, you want to be prepared! Define your goals for the process and know what your ideal candidate looks like.

  1. Research the position that you are hiring for. Make sure you understand the responsibilities of the position, the work environment, and what skills and experience are required. Make sure you can articulate them in a way that makes sense to candidates.
  2. Prepare interview questions that will help you determine if the candidate is a good fit for the position.
  3. Review your company’s policies on hiring and the interview process. Make sure you are familiar with the procedures and that you are prepared to answer any questions candidates might have about the job.
  4. Remember that you are being interviewed, too. You want to come across as professional, organized, and knowledgeable about the position and company. Be well dressed, stay on schedule, know who you are interviewing next.

Prepare for candidates who might not have the required skills or experience. Be prepared to explain how they can learn those skills on the job or suggest training programs. Prepare for candidates who want to negotiate the salary and benefits.

How much will you be willing to pay?

How flexible are you with hours or vacation time?

Know the specific answers so that you can provide the clear parameters of the job. Remember that every candidate will have different goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Be prepared to weigh those against what they bring your company, as well as their personality traits.

Pull Out Your “Spidey-Senses”

You can’t rely solely on your instinct for deciding who to hire, so it’s important to do your due diligence as well. But after years of hiring, firing, and interviewing candidates, you likely have a good sense of who you are looking for and recognize a good fit when you see it.

You want to avoid the “crazies,” the bad hires that drain resources and negatively impact your customers or the team. How can you do this? By being prepared so that you can pay close attention. Here are a few tips:

  • Have a solid list of questions ready to ask. This will help you get a sense of the candidate’s qualifications, as well as their personality.
  • Pay close attention to the answers they give. Are they relevant? Do they seem like they’re making stuff up? If so, that might be a sign of instability.
  • Watch how the candidate behaves during the interview. Are they nervous? Irritable? These could also be signs of instability.
  • Get references from past employers or colleagues and follow up with them. This can help give you an idea of how the candidate performs on the job.
  • Make sure you’re prepared for interview questions yourself! This will ensure that you come across as authoritative, knowledgeable, and in control.

The Common Interview Questions

Starting an interview with some of the common questions will relax both you and the candidate. Avoid questions that are personal or could be misinterpreted. Stick to questions that will give you concrete answers, such as:

  • How did you hear about the role?
  • What do you know about our company, and why do you want to work here?
  • Why did you apply for this particular position?
  • Why are you leaving your last job?
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • What is your experience with (specific POS/software/program or skill)?
  • How do you handle stress while working?
  • Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or co-worker, and how did you resolve it?
  • What skills and strengths can you bring to this position?

From these questions, it’s important not only to listen carefully but also watch how the person speaks – do they speak clearly or sloppily; fast/slow; etc… all of which can give one insight into a potential hire’s personality type (and thus suitability) for any given job role. This should help weed out some “crazies” before even getting started on more difficult questions!

Pro Tip: Stop Talking

Leave room for silence. We are often in a hurry to fill up dead air, and if you leave room for silence and let the candidate formulate answers to your questions, you will get better answers. Don’t rush the process. Take some breathing room and let them fill the space.

I like to do an interview sometimes just starting off with one question then listening. After, depending on the response, I will ask deeper questions based on their responses. Very effective to see how the candidate deals with pressure and stress. Good for the restaurant industry.

Dive Deeper For What You Want To Know.

So, you’ve got a good list of questions to ask – now what? The common questions are great for establishing a skill set. Can the person do the requirements of the job, how much experience do they have, will they work well with the team?

But there are also “soft skills” to consider. What is their personality like, how well do they work with others, will they show up on time, will they take initiative? Those qualities are harder to ask specifically and get honest answers, so your questions need to flush them out in a more conversational manner.

  • What’s your definition of hard work?
  • In five minutes, could you explain something to me that is complicated, but you know well? This is one of the best tests of intelligence and communication skills and a way to gauge passion.
  • Tell me about a time you messed up. This is one of the most popular interview questions that is a great test of humility and self-awareness.
  • What do you value in your teammates?
  • What makes you excited to get up and come to work?
  • How would your previous teammates describe you?
  • How would your previous boss describe you?
  • Describe a time you gave great customer service.

Often these questions don’t have a “right” answer, but you want a good answer. One that shows their personality, work ethic, communication skills and maturity. A candidate may not have all the specific skills you are looking for but consider that those can often be taught. The soft skills you are looking for here are usually set in a person, and you want ones that will mesh well with the rest of your team. And remember, you can’t teach nice!

Throw In Some Curve Balls

If a candidate has been to a lot of job interviews, or if you have been leading several interviews – the process can get monotonous, and many questions asked repeatedly might be making your eyes glass over. Adding levity demonstrates your personality and company culture, and helps to put everyone at ease.

You can ask this question if a candidate seems really anxious or nervous at the start. A curveball question might loosen them up. If a candidate seems overly confident or scripted, a curveball question might shake them up enough to allow you to see the real them.

You don’t want to ask them all but choose one or two that might help change the dynamics of the interview. Let them know you are going to ask some questions for fun so they don’t feel like this is a part of the interview with a hidden agenda.

  • If you could choose one superhuman ability, what would it be?
  • What TV or movie character would you most like to have lunch with?
  • Dogs or Cats? And why?
  • If you were stuck on a deserted island and had all the food, water, and shelter you needed, what three personal items would you bring?
  • Which literary character did you always dream of being?
  • If you could visit any country on the planet, where would you go and why?
  • Name ten uses for a stapler (other than its intended use).
  • What’s the best gift you have ever given?
  • Describe this job to an extraterrestrial who just landed in Central Park.
  • Would you rather ride a giraffe to work or an elephant? What are the advantages and drawbacks of your preferred method of transportation?

Your questions should reflect your company’s culture or otherwise have a specific purpose, even if it’s only to break the ice and get a candidate to relax before you get to tough questions.

Let Them Take The Lead

Eventually, you will gather enough concrete information and enough intuitive sense that you’ll have a good read on the candidate and their suitability for the position. Now it’s time to turn the tables.

“Do you have any questions for me” or “What questions haven’t I asked you” is a good open-ended opportunity for them to take initiative. If they don’t have questions, that might be a warning.

Then should be interested enough to want to work for you, and in the specific position, to have something to ask, and ideally, it’s not all about money or time off!

Candidates instantly rise who ask thoughtful questions like:

  • What challenges will I need to prepare for going into this position?
  • How can I improve my chances of succeeding?
  • What do you like best about the company culture? How has it changed over time?
  • What is your management style for employees who are not doing well in their positions or need help to succeed?
  • How much autonomy is expected of employees in their positions, and how closely are they supervised by management?

Obviously, you can’t control what a candidate will ask at this juncture. But a great candidate is likely to have something prepared or have some follow-up questions. Often it’s more in what they don’t ask, that what they do ask, that will be your indicator.

Don’t Be Too Hasty

When it comes to hiring new employees, it’s important to take your time and make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job. This means taking the time to ask the right questions during the interview process and really getting to know the candidate. It also means being careful not to hire too quickly.

Hiring too quickly can often lead to regret later. You may end up hiring someone who is not a good fit for the job or who turns out to be a bad employee. This can waste time and money and can even damage your business.

It’s much better to take your time and hire slowly so that you can make sure you are hiring the best possible candidate.

Don’t Rely On Your Memory!

As you are interviewing each candidate, take notes. Write down key thoughts, impressions, important facts they offer, highlights of the interview, and potential warning signals. You can’t rely on your memory to be reliable, especially when you are interviewing numerous people in a row. Writing notes will give you the opportunity to review each person with your team realistically.

It’s Daunting, But Doable.

Preparing for a hiring interview can be daunting, but if you have the right questions to ask, it can also be a great opportunity to learn more about the candidate and see if they would be a good fit for your business. By asking thoughtful questions that probe into their skillset and personality, you can get a better idea of who they are, whether they would be a good addition to your team, and alerts you to the “crazies” that will only take up time and money.

Remember the importance of taking your time when making a decision about who to hire- often, it’s a task people want to avoid. Be cautious, haste can often lead to regret later on.

Right now is the most competitive hiring market we have ever seen. If you own a restaurant and need help finding staff, I have good news. I’m doing a Free Web Class on Tuesday-

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Michael Thibault
Michael Thibault

Michael Thibault

Known as “The Done For You Marketing Guy for Restaurants.” International Speaker on Restaurant Marketing. Published contributing author of 4 Marketing Books. Industry expert on Google Searches and Review Sites. Recovering Independent Restaurant Owner and Caterer of over 21 years. And, all-around good guy.

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