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Productivity / Growth

Part 2: How to interview for an employee

You know how to conduct the first part of an interview, now let’s take a look at the second part, which includes some no go areas!

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Maybe you’ve had an opportunity to use some of the interview techniques discussed in my first article? In this article, let’s take everything one step further. 

4. Behavioural questions 

Very few people use behavioural questions effectively. The theory behind them is that past behaviour indicates future performance. That is, if you have worked on a busy reception desk, and I put you in that situation again, you will most likely react/work the same way as you did before. 

Example questions might be “Tell me about a time when you had more work than you could possibly handle? What happened and what did you do?” Once the candidate has given you an overview of the situation, delve deeper into a specific part of the story, asking one question at a time.

  • “So when you were in that meeting, what were you thinking?”
  • “What did you do?”
  • “What did you say?”
  • “What was your role?”
  • “What was the outcome?”
  • “Can you give me an example?” 

By probing with open-ended questions, you’ll get a clear picture of what actually happened, and how the individual handled themselves. If the situation isn’t real or accurate, their story will quickly fall apart.

5. Cultural questions 

If I asked you to describe the culture of your micro business, what would you say? How do other workers feel when they walk into your work space? What would they see? Would they hear laughter or silence? These things help determine your culture. Many people fail in jobs – not because they can’t do the role but because they are not a cultural fit. 

"To avoid potentially discriminating against a candidate, there are some questions you should avoid asking."

In interviews, ask questions such as: 

  • “What type of team relationship do you work best in?”
  • “How do you like to be managed?”
  • “Do you like to socialise with work colleagues?”
  • “Can you give me an example?” 

Want more articles like this? Check out the growth section.

6. Close 

Tell the candidate about the role and what you are looking for. Remember to sell the opportunity. Ask if they have any questions for you. You want the candidate to ask questions – lots of them. 

Let the candidate know that you are interviewing a couple of people, and advise them of the next steps. Finally, thank them for their time and their interest in the role. 

Questioning techniques 

Don’t be afraid to probe for information until you have a detailed picture of the situation. Use silence for people who are not forthcoming with information, because they’ll look to fill the gaps. 

Conversely, if they are too chatty, interrupt them and use closed questions to control their chatter. I always preface my interviews with the fact that I will interrupt to ensure we stay on track. 

Avoid asking two questions in quick succession, as the individual will only answer the second question. 

Also, if the candidate is talking about what the team did, don’t be afraid to ask, What was your role?” 

‘No go’ question areas 

To avoid potentially discriminating against a candidate, there are some questions you should avoid asking. 

Rather than asking what childcare arrangements the interviewee has, pose this: “It is sometimes necessary to stay late at short notice. Would you be able to do that?” 

Don’t ask, “Does your religion prevent you from working on certain days of the week?” Rather, say, “Ideally we are looking for someone to work Monday to Friday, 9-5pm. Are you able work these hours?” 

Following the techniques above will improve your ability to find the best person for your role, so that your micro business can continue to flourish. 

What are your experiences interviewing people for your micro business?

Natasha Hawker

helps SMEs understand the challenges their businesses face and unlocks the mysteries of effective HR. She is the co-owner of Employee Matters and author of From Hire to Fire: Everything in Between".

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