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Small Business Tips

10 best interview questions to ask employees

Manasa Reddigari

Whether you're hiring your first or fifteenth employee, an interview is a great way to get to know an applicant. But, what are the best interviewing questions to ask? Asking these ten interviewing questions will make it easy to evaluate an applicant's skills and cultural fit for your business.

Interview questions to ask prospective employees

Why did you apply to our business and this job specifically?

Asking this interview question will help you determine an applicant's motivation for applying. Their answer will show if they have a genuine passion for your business offering or values? Seek out applicants who clearly articulate how your business and this job sets itself apart from others.

How does your previous experience relate to this position?

This interview question helps you assess whether the applicant can perform the specific duties required of the role. If needed, request samples or a portfolio that demonstrate the quality of his work in the operational area for which he is applying.

Have you owned, run or worked at a small business in the past?

Small businesses operate with unique financial and operational constraints. An applicant who has experienced and learned from these constraints has a leg up over those who have not. If the answer is no, a great candidate will still latch onto the question to show their value. For example, "No I've never worked at a small business before. But, I've done research into the challenges and am eager to learn."

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Give me an example of an area we could improve in our business. If you ran the company, what would you do differently?

Here is a chance to assess how well an applicant can provide value-added criticism. The answer will show whether the applicant can identify issues and implement meaningful change.

How would your previous supervisor and co-workers describe you?

This helps suss out the personal qualities of the employee. The answer can reveal if the applicant is a confidently humble team player or one who is more self-praising. See how well these qualities align with your business values.

What would you do if your project was running past its deadline or beyond its budget?

Schedules and budgets don't always go according to plan even in effectively-managed small businesses. But a logical and level-headed applicant will know how to drive goals forward even in times of perceived crisis.

Give me an example of a time you failed. How did you handle the failure and what did you learn from it?

Grit, or the power to persevere in the face of obstacles, is a key indicator of success in business. Having the courage to admit honestly to past failures, yet learn and grow from them, is a rare and admirable trait in an employee.

What is your proudest career accomplishment to date?

Using this interview question reveals the value he or she brought to another organization. The answer may reveal an applicant's commitment to quality. Or, it may evidence a pattern of taking bold, meaningful initiatives in his or her career. This can also show you what values they hold and if that lines with your business values.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

The goal of this interviewing question isn't to pigeonhole an employee into a single career path. More so, it is intended to determine whether the applicant has given thought to his future and can articulate his current goals.

What questions do you have for me?

The best applicants will be as interested in your fit for his career as his fit for your business. His answer should demonstrate a passionate curiosity about the specific job and your business.

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