When you become a leader you have to make a ton of GIANT decisions, whether as an employee who recently got promoted, or an entrepreneur with a business that’s now large enough for you to hire an employee or two. Hiring decisions are probably the most important ones!
Note that being the interviewer is a huge change from being the interviewee.
Pro Tip: Don’t ask unto others the same interview questions that were asked unto you! (That’s why you’re here!)
Or, maybe you’re a seasoned interview pro and you’re here looking for some new interview questions to ask potential employees during your interviews.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that hiring is one of the most important parts of running a successful business, and knowing what questions to ask is the framework that leads to great hiring decisions.
I’ve got a few of great tactics here, my coaching on the ritual of hiring, and of course my 9 in depth questions to ask potential employees.
It’s Tactics vs Ritual (and Ritual ALWAYS Wins)
So what’s the difference between the two? And what are they?
Tactic – An action that you can take that will help you in an area. It’s actionable.
Ritual – A firm belief in the overall topic. Philosophical. The part of “the thing” that has passion attached to it.
So why does Ritual ALWAYS win?
Because, if you don’t have a method, an opinion, and a default attack plan then you have no where to stick these great tactics that you read about. Ritual is like “your style” of doing something.
Let me say it a bit differently…
If I list out 10 great interviewing tactics (Which I do in this post: 10 Steps to Better Hiring and Interviewing | Win the War for Talent), but you’ve never done an interview and have no idea how the flow of an interview generally goes, you can’t use any of those tactics because you have no framework to add the tactic to.
How do you build your ritual?
Good freaking question!!! Read this whole post, and then go do interviews. Lots of them. As you do, you will build your belief system on how to pull the answers out of people as you ask the questions.
So before I get to my 9 awesome questions to ask potential employees, I’ve got…
A Few Ritual Primers For You
This is so you can start to build up your style of interviewing and form that ever important ritual.
- Be yourself. The applicant needs to want the job, and when you are yourself it will translate into an ease and confidence in how you come off to others.
- Know the Core Values of the company and make sure that the applicant aligns to that. This could be a 2000 word article in-and-of itself, so I’ll just leave it open and link to an old piece that I wrote on Core Values . I also reference it in the 10 Steps to Better Hiring and Interviewing. It’s steps #3 and #2.
- Don’t be nervous! You are in control, so you shouldn’t be nervous. You might be when you start, but know that they are the ones under the light, and you are running the show.
- Interview them using your personality. Don’t try to be some hardass when you’re a sweetheart. I know this is practically the same as #1, BUT, it’s that important.
All right…Let’s get to the thing that you came here for!
Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees
Obviously you need to shake their hand, and go through introductions. Then you get to…
The best way to start an interview is with a question that let’s them talk about whatever they want to talk about. One of my Core Values is to always have fun, so I phrase my first question like this:
Give me your 2-minute commercial about yourself.
That will get them talking, and more importantly get you listening. You’re not allowed to interact with commercials after all!
You want to know what motivates the applicant. What they’re passionate about, what drives them and whether to not you want that motivation, or lack-there-or- as part of your team.
What’s the proudest moment of your career?
The “career” part is important so it keeps them focused on talking about things that they did at work.
You also want to know what the person values in life. So the next question is….
What’s the proudest moment in life?
You’re going to get a very wide array of answers here, but it will give you an idea of who they really are, and will start to let you in on some details that are extremely important, but often not talked about in interviews (children, hobbies etc).
Here is my favorite question! This is where you find out how self aware the person is, how open they are, and if they will admit to mistakes and learn from them.
Tell me about a time where you were disappointed in your effort. How did you grow from it?
This is when you need to really use your listening skills, and the power of silence. A vast majority of applicants will struggle with this question at first, but as you stay quiet and force them them to tell the story, you’ll really get to see what level of commitment the have to learning.
I like to know about the applicants “hero”. The person that taught them everything they know, and helped shape their life.
Who is a person that has mentored you? What did you take from them, and how do you live that lesson forward?
The reason I like this is because when you know that someone invested in them, they will usually want to pay that forward. By asking about this in the interview you also send the message to them that it’s going to be important to you.
When you’re building a team, you can add size by adding followers, or you can multiply effectiveness by adding leaders. I prefer the latter!
Who is a person that you’ve mentored to be a success. Why did you pick them and how did you help them grow?
Leadership is ultra important, and it’s not that you need to hire all leaders, but like the last question, you need to send the message that you expect leadership.
This another leadership based question, but more geared towards interacting with the team.
Tell me a story when you rallied the team through a tough time or a lull in productivity.
You’ll know if they can spot tough times or drops in productivity. You’ll know if they give a rip when things grind to a halt, and if they can put on the captains arm band and lead from on the field.
Another leadership type question here, more geared to seeing how they interact with others.
Tell me about a conflict that you resolved between co-workers, possibly you and another person, and how did you do it?
In times of conflict emotion runs high and people’s true colors come through a bit. Very often when reliving it the same will happen and they will come out of “interview mode” and you’ll get a good glimpse at their true personality.
Having a teammate that will push hard to win is so valuable. You don’t need every teammate to have that love of the grind, but you need plenty of them!
What’s the longest hours you had to put in or a time where you were on a very tight deadline?
What to listen for here is…How important is it for them to win?
Here’s the question that I wrap my interviews with:
Did they do any research? Did they listen to the whole interview? Is the only thing on their mind the pay rate? Here’s how you answer those questions
OK, your turn to interview me! What do you want to know?
The trick to this question is that you need to ask it in a way that makes them comfortable to ask their questions. You can actually tell them that you’re going to ask this at the beginning of the interview to get them ready for it.
Hiring someone is a huge step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I hope you’re able to use some of these questions to identify the teammate that you hire on.