Interview Questions To Identify Top Performers

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As a small business owner, one of your key responsibilities is to identify top performers who will fit your business culture and contribute to the success of your business. The interview is an important step in the process and the questions you ask are critical to the success of the interview. So, some common questions you may have followed along with some responses are here:

Q1. How do you develop interview questions that will identify those top performers? What are some unique qualities you should assess in candidates when interviewing prospective staff? Why?

A. Most applicants will have the required education, skills and experience you described in your job advertisement. However, to find a great candidate, look for other qualities like:

• Do they look you in the eye and answer thoughtfully?

• Are they appropriately dressed for the interview?

• Do they attempt to engage you with their answers or do they just give you the basic information?

• Are they listening and actually answering the questions you have asked?

These and other behaviors are good indicators of how well the candidate will fit in your organization's culture. Hiring "outliers" can cause more disruption than provide contributions to the success of the organization and work teams.

Q2. What are some questions you should ask during an interview? How can each of these questions provide insight into the candidate?

A1. What improvements can we make with our products/services to be more competitive?

This tells you whether or not the candidate knows much about your company, whether or not they are truly interested in what you do, etc. While you cannot expect an in-depth answer, you want a little proof that they have researched your company and have taken an interest.

A2. Why are you interested in this job? And what skills or strengths can you bring to my small business?

If a candidate is just job hungry and needs the money, he/she is not going to be as valuable as a candidate that truly wants to work for your company and has a passion for the industry.

A3. What three things in your present job give you the most satisfaction? Why?

If the candidate can't answer this, you have a good indication that they may just be looking to leave and not looking for the next step in a career ladder. By providing an opportunity for the candidate to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction, you get a better look into what makes them tick - it can provide another measure of whether the candidate will be a good fit for your company.

A4. How long do you think it will take you to start contributing to our organization?

The candidate's response to this one can demonstrate how much they understand about the organization and the job for which they have applied. It can reveal how the person views their own skill set and what value previous experiences can can contribute to the new position. It also will give you some insight into their initiative and commitment to become a valuable contributor.

A5. Do you have any questions?

This is the LAST question you should ask - if the candidate has no questions, this could be a sign that they are not really interested in your position or company. But, if they were asking questions all during the interview, they may not have additional follow-up questions.

If they were not asking questions during the interview and still have none at the end, be a little wary that they may be timid and once hired would not ask questions about the work or work processes.

Q3. What's more important when selecting new employees: experience or personality? Why?

A. Personality, fit, skills, and experience are all factors that should play a role in the recruitment decision-making process. Keep in mind that skills can be learned, but people don't change their personalities. Most employees can quickly learn the ins and outs of a job within 90 days. Hire a group of people that work well together. Team members with exceptional fit and personality but relatively little experience may be the key to generating a loyal, lasting customer base.

Q4. What are the differences between a first interview and a call back interview? What should you look for during each phase of the hiring process?

A. First interview is to generally determine the applicant's experience and skill level - to weed out those actually qualified for the position from those who only look good on paper. Call back interviews typically dig deeper into the applicant's personality and reasons for wanting this particular job. Questions typically will delve into how an applicant would or did handle specific situations and to determine their level of interest in and knowledge of the company.

Q5. Other tips for small business owners looking to interview new candidates.

A. Look for the candidate that expresses enthusiasm for your organization and demonstrates a willingness and desire to join the team. Don't be afraid to take your time to find the right fit and use assessment tools and tests to help in this process. Use the telephone to conduct an initial screening interview - you can tell a lot over the phone and perhaps save yourself time by weeding out candidates that just don't respond well over the phone.

The Takeaway

If you consider implementing employee recruitment strategies, take comfort in knowing your efforts will net good results. From a reduction in employee turnover to enhanced customer service, employee recruitment takes your company to the next level of success. MJ Management Solutions, Inc. can provide HR solutions that ensure your recruiting strategies succeed.

Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, is the founder and president of MJ Management Solutions, a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive. This article first appeared on the MJ Management Solutions blog.

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