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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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10 Interview Questions You Should Ask a Job Applicant


Finding great employees to staff your small business is never quite as simple as it seems. Either you have too many qualified applicants or too little. But when you do find the right employees, they are truly an indispensable asset to your business. So how do you find qualified, reliable employees to hire? Well, the answer is just as complex as the hiring process. From reviewing resumes to checking references, there are a lot of things to consider before you offer your candidate the job.

One of the most important steps (and the key to hiring standout employees) is to conduct an efficient interview. Your interview must be a well-balanced combination of questions about the applicant’s personal philosophies and give you insight into their professional experience and life outside of work. Interviewing without one or the other could result in a new hire that leaves a bit to be desired. Wondering what specific questions you should include in your interview? We’ve compiled 10 of the most important interview questions you should ask a job applicant.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

This one is an oldie but a goodie. While it is definitely a traditional question to ask, it sets the interview tone to be a little bit more of a conversation rather than an overly-structured interview. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to get an at-a-glance overview of the candidate’s personality and work ethos.

Why do you want this job?

Understanding why an applicant wants to work for you or even why they’re leaving their current job can give you some important insight into their goals, how they’d fit into your company culture, and how they’ve worked with past supervisors and teams. If they are quick to gossip about management styles or job negatives, this may be a red flag. However, if they describe positive relationships and demonstrate a genuine interest in the available position, they could be a great hire!

What is your ideal work environment?

Ask the applicant about their preferred work environment to get a better idea of how they like to work. If they work best in a private office or remotely on their own, it may not be a good fit if you have an open concept office.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Although you may want to hold onto your best employees, good employers understand that all good things must come to an end. Rather than making sure the candidate is committed to your company for five years, this question is intended to get a glimpse of the applicant’s drive. Do they want to grow within the company? Do they foresee career growth in general? These are good indicators of driven employees.

What is your greatest strength as an employee?

Identify what the applicant considers to be his or her greatest skill— this will help you find the right place for them in your business.

What is your greatest weakness?

Avoid potential problems with this direct question. If someone says they’re “always running late” or “unorganized,” you may want to reconsider your job offer.


Describe a challenging work experience and tell us how you dealt with it.

Take a peek at the applicant’s problem-solving skills before you even hire!

What qualities can you bring to improve company culture?

Maybe they’re a great baker or perhaps they’re super outgoing. Whatever their hobbies or personality type, creating a welcoming, supportive company culture is important if you want to retain good employees. Make sure your newest hire fits into the company culture you’re working hard to create.

Can we run a background check pre-employment?

Running criminal background checks for employment can help you avoid serious issues like fraud and theft when hiring a new employee. But before running a background check, you must get proper authorization from the applicant.

What makes you stand out among other applicants?

Ask the candidate why they think they should be hired in a sea of other qualified applicants. They know their skills and personality best, so they should be able to tell you why they think they’re the best fit for the position!

In Conclusion

Hiring the right person for the job could mean spending a lot of time in interviews, screening applicants, and going back and forth in the decision process. But when you ask the right questions, you have a pretty good chance of ending up with an employee that suits your company’s work culture and performs at (or even above) your business’ productivity standards.

The most important part of bringing on a new employee? Make sure to trust your judgment. Whether you’re the hiring manager or business owner, chances are you have a pretty insightful perspective of the personalities and work ethics that fit into your company—and this is your superpower in the hiring process, so use it! Trust your gut with each new hire and you are well on your way to becoming a hiring pro.


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