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-