Interview Questions for Employers: Choosing Between Great Candidates
By: Chris Lewis
With the national unemployment rate remaining stubbornly high, you may have been faced with the daunting task of choosing from a pool of eligible applicants with the right interview questions. Some of these applicants may be overqualified.
How can you choose a candidate that will fulfill the job’s responsibilities and be a suitable match to your company culture? By targeting your interview questions to align with your business’s needs.
Sample Interview Questions: Tell me about the most significant challenges you have encountered throughout your career. How did you overcome these issues? What steps did you implement to resolve them?
As the owner of a home health care business based in Rochester Hills, Mich., Penny VanDette copes with the unavoidable challenges of many small business owners: project overload and staff shortages. She looks for top talent who will consistently rise above such issues and exceed expectations.
In her interviews, VanDette focuses on the candidates’ perceptions of past challenges and how they utilized their problem-solving skills. “I am particularly interested in hiring candidates who are risk-takers and are able to creatively approach any problems they encounter on a daily basis,” she says.
Follow up with additional questions:
- Did you resolve past conflicts alone or with the assistance of fellow team members?
- Was there a positive outcome for both you and your former employer?
- How were you able to apply these lessons to other similar scenarios?
- Describe these scenarios and their ultimate outcomes.
Sample Interview Questions: How did you contribute to the fiscal and business goals of your previous employers? How can you apply this experience to our organization?
Small business owners must often rely on employees who can assist with day-by-day operations, including office management and budget implementation.
Jill Morrone, owner of an educational supply company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, pursues a line of interview questions that illustrate how the candidate benefited the fiscal and business goals of previous employers.
“I am generally interested in conducting further interviews with candidates who have positively contributed to past employers’ monetary and business objectives, while working as a distinguished team player,” says Morrone.
Potential follow-up interview questions to ask:
- Have you had the opportunity to assist with developing a budget?
- Did you offer to initiate cost-reduction strategies? How comfortable were you this role?
- Were your financial ideas well-received by your fellow colleagues? Were your ideas implemented? What was the outcome?
- As a result, were you perceived as a reliable team player? If so, how?
Sample Interview Questions: How have previous bosses viewed your work? Why?
As the human resources representative of a promotional product manufacturer in Troy, Mich., Herb Weidman pursues candidates who, throughout the interview process, willingly convey positive working relationships with former supervisors.
“Candidates should offer interviewers examples of evaluations they have received from past employers,” says Weidman. “It is always very helpful for candidates to bring such evaluations with them to interviews.”
Ask the candidate to recreate specific scenarios that best illustrate the reasons behind the positive feedback.
Sample Interview Questions: What are your current career goals? Are you interested in long-term or short-term employment? Do you see your career goals changing in the near future?
The hiring process can require significant time and resources to interview and employ suitable candidates.
For Anthony Alichwer, owner of a small photography business in Easton, Penn., that means knowing your own business’s needs and being sure that they align with the candidate’s personal timeline.
“If I have a long-term position available, I must hire a candidate focused on a long-term commitment. The same principle applies to short-term positions,” says Alichwer. “As an employer, you should fully know your candidates’ future goals and the ways in which these goals may positively or negatively impact your business.”
Additionally, consider asking:
- Do you plan to further your education and hone your current skills?
- How will your educational pursuits improve my business’s operations in the future?
As you go about interviewing candidates, these questions will enable you to streamline your applicant list and hire an individual you can depend on to develop your business goals in the future.