Ah, the dreaded interview process.

It is one of the topics I receive many questions one when consulting with business owners. The concern among business owners and hiring managers is that in the past, the questions they asked during an interview process did not provide any real insight into who the prospective employee really was. As a result, hiring decisions were made that unfortunately ending up being disappointing to both the business owner and the employee.

I am often asked if there is a set of questions or carefully crafted scripting that will guide business owners and mangers through the process in a way guaranteed to bring about more fruitful results. While there are no guarantees when it comes to interviews, I’ve nonetheless compiled a list of questions focused on eliciting answers that will allow interviewers to better gauge the employee’s personality.

Personality questions are useful when trying to determine how well the candidate would fit with your team and corporate culture and how easy they will be to manage. I like to sprinkle these questions in with the other standard questions you ask for each position.

Question #1 Tell me about a time when your manager wasn’t satisfied with your work — How did you handle the feedback, and what did you do differently going forward?

As the saying goes, it’s not how we make the mistakes but how we correct them that defines us. With this question, the expectation is that the candidate has a story to share. Someone that says they have never had a manger who was dissatisfied with their work is lying or unable to admit when they may have done something wrong. These employees may be difficult to manage, may have a hard time taking constructive criticism and generally be the type to cause drama.

A promising candidate will be one who can explain the details of issue and who can clearly define a path forward showing they understood the feedback and learned from the mistake. Responses where the candidate speaks poorly of the manager or organization are red flags. Provided you like the candidate’s answer, a good follow-up question to his might be to ask about the management style the candidate responds best to and compare that answer to the style of the manager you’re hiring for.

Question #2  Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?

Much in the same way candidates speaking poorly of their former managers/employers is a red flag, so too is speaking poorly of former coworkers. This response should be one where the employee can clearly explain the conflict and the part they played in it. Someone who is unable to understand that conflict is a two way street will continually play the victim, likely creating a toxic work environment for anyone they may disagree with. You want to make sure that the candidate’s way of dealing with conflict is a constructive one and that is aligns with your internal conflict resolution policy. 

Question #3 Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client. How did you handle this delicate situation?

Communication is one the most important soft skills and not everyone communicates the same way or effectively. This question will allow you to better understand the candidate’s communication style and whether or not it will fit in with that of the team. Keep an eye out for red flags: disrespectful referring to the client or inability to empathize with the frustration of others. Regardless of whether or not the candidate will be working with clients, the will still be interacting with other members of your team and internal customer service is just as important as external.

Question #4 If you could have any super power what would it be?

This is one of my absolute favorite questions to throw into an interview. It’s so unexpected and random that it will throw a candidate out of interview mode and give you glimpses of their true personality. This question also allows you to see a candidate’s innovativeness, creativity and quick-thinking skills.

Ultimately, you are looking for candidates that can answer these questions with little to no red flags and who best align with your corporate culture. Those candidates who tend to play the victim or who are unable to acknowledge how their actions impacted a negative situation are more likely to feel they have been wronged, resulting in exaggerated/erroneous claims and/or lawsuits. Steer clear of unreasonable individuals.

Do you have questions about the interview process? What questions you can and cannot legally ask? Help with crafting more questions specific to your business? Help is just a click of the mouse away. Schedule a consultation with an attorney today to have all your questions answered and receive beneficial information and advice to assist you.

Law 4 Small Business, P.C. (L4SB). A little law now can save a lot later. A Slingshot company.

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