Interviewing Success: Confirm the Best Fit for Your Small Business

By Allan Thompson | Chief Operating Officer

This is the second part in Jet Capital’s series on hiring the best talent for your small business. The first part of the series covers recruiting.

You have a stack of excellent resumes on your desk, each one carefully reviewed to match the job you need filled. Now it is time to start the next phase in building your team: interviewing. Meeting your candidates offers the opportunity to size up each potential hire. It also gives the people you are interviewing an opportunity to learn more about you and your small business.

Here are some tips to conquer the hiring process.

Interview Questions

The interview process gives you a chance to follow up to see if the candidate’s resume really reflects their ability. Some employers rarely ask questions about information on the resume as experience has shown that if the candidate has put something on the resume, they are prepared to discuss it.  Instead, you can personalize a few of your interview questions to the job description, tying them back to items listed on the resume only as they relate to a specific skills or knowledge.  There are many great interview questions available online if you need some inspiration. The key is to use questions that give you the information you need.

Are you hiring for a position that will have a lot of contact with your customers? Here are a few questions to consider.

  • What do you consider the key elements of customer service? This question will give you some insight into how the candidate thinks about meeting the needs of your clients.
  • A customer is angry or unhappy with our product. What do you do? Even though you should have a protocol for handling this situation, a question like this can show how a candidate would problem solve.
  • What have you done to demonstrate how you value the happiness of customers? This question gives candidates a chance to tell you about their prior experience and success.

If you are hiring for a position that will work closely with other team members, you will need to confirm the candidate is willing to be supportive and helpful. Asking these types of questions can give you more information and also inform the candidate a little more about the requirements of the job.

  • Our team often has to work closely together. Can you give me some examples of how you have worked with a team in the past? This question will give you specific information about how the candidate’s previous experience is helpful.
  • How have you taken the initiative in the past? This question shines light on the candidate’s ability to see a need and take responsibility for solving problems.
  • Can you tell me about the last disagreement you had at work and how you worked through it? A question like this acknowledges that conflict is a normal and often healthy part of a working environment while also mining for more information on how this candidate reacts when it occurs.

Be sure to ask follow-up questions for each interview question and take careful notes. If you are running several interviews in a short amount of time, you will need those notes later to remember specific details about each candidate.

Be Careful - Know What You Can’t Ask!

When interviewing, there are a number of topics that you should never approach. The Department of Labor outlines several questions and areas that you must avoid to steer clear of any possibility of discrimination. These include age, race, religion, family status, sexual orientation and more. The Department of Labor has created CareerOneStop, a comprehensive website to help employers navigate the hiring process. You can learn more about what questions are strictly illegal HERE.

Consider a Second Interview

Hiring an employee is a huge decision and a big investment. Follow up interviews are an important way to verify information and confirm your first impressions. Most candidates will expect a second interview and will probably welcome the chance to ask more questions of their own.

In some work environments, a practical test may be useful in a second interview. For example, if you are hiring a bartender, give candidates a list of several drinks to make at once and see how they handle the pressure. Or if you are hiring someone to make sales or interact with customers, acting out a likely scenario can help you confirm how a candidate would handle the situations and demonstrate their ability to “think on their feet”. If you need someone with technical skills, give them a few problems to solve or ask them to evaluate the equipment they will be using to get a sense of their skill level.

Get Your Team’s Help

Since you will all be working together, having a few members of your team involved in the hiring process helps build a great team. First of all, your current employees will appreciate having a say in who they will be working with in the future. Second, it is great to have someone you trust verify your reactions and take notes, too. Your team might pick up on red flags that you miss, or they could notice some hidden skills or experiences that would really benefit your small business.

You might also step out of the room and let your team spend a few moments with the candidate. They might see a totally different side of the individual when the relationship is peer-to-peer. Again, this is a process of learning more about each candidate, but it is also a chance for them to ask questions and learn about your company, too. Give both sides an honest chance to communicate so the right decisions can be made with the best information.

Jet Capital understands that building your team is critical for your success. We are here to see your small business succeed with great resources, helpful tips, and business funding solutions to help you grow. Follow us on Facebook for more great tips and advice for small businesses.


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