Inspiration and Information for Starting Your Business

Asking the Right Questions

By Matthew Toren

Ah, the other side of the table. Empathy is a funny thing, isn’t it? We’ve all been on tough job interviews. We’ve all faced questions we’ve had a tough time answering. Or maybe you’ve aced ever job interview you’ve ever had. Whatever the case, use your experience to shape your own questions when conducting a search for a new employee.

The Illusory Resume

Maybe you’ve sifted through piles of resumes and narrowed down a few quality applicants to interview. Perhaps you found someone directly and want to confirm your hypothesis of their excellence. Either way, you’ve analyzed the prospective employee’s resume and confirmed their qualifications. Now it’s time to look past the paper. Don’t spend time going through a checklist and reading a resume while conducting an interview. You’re attempting to dig out some new information; information that can’t be seen in font and bullet points.

Set the Tone

Have you been interviewed by someone entirely serious, a stone-faced vet who’s heard it all and leaves you uneasy? We’re you able to perform to the best of your ability or you were hindered by your anxiety? Understand that a job interview can be nervous experience as it is, especially considering today’s tough job market. Help your prospective employee feel comfortable and they’ll be in a better position to demonstrate their valuable qualities. Smile and have a pleasant introduction. Small-talk for a moment before getting down to business. Of course, you’re the boss and you must project a professional attitude, but never purposely intimidate an applicant. Have your questions prepared and a pen and notebook handy, and verbalize your interview process to mentally prepare the job candidate.

The Perfect Candidate

There isn’t one. You may have an ideal of what kind of person you’re seeking, even down to the very last detail. You can use this ideal as a guide, but don’t let it sway you from selecting an applicant because they don’t fit your mold completely. On the other hand, never settle if someone doesn’t meet your standards. Ultimately, it’s better to hire no one than somebody who will perform inadequately or is unsustainable.

Precise but Open

Avoid “yes” or “no” questions and focus on queries that allow the interviewee to speak for a while. You want to see how they formulate ideas and express them. Ask a variety of conventional questions and unexpected questions they haven’t heard before. You’ll want some surprises, but avoid deliberately confusing questions. Seek precise examples of how the candidate performed in the past. How do their prior experiences correlate to what they can do for your company? What are the similarities and the differences?

Sell Your Company and Turn the Tables

It’s also your job to sell yourself and your business to the job candidate. Have them ask you any questions they have. If they’re potentially awesome with plenty of options, you want to communicate that your business is a perfect fit and a great opportunity. Additionally, fleshing out the details of your company and style will clarify communication between the both of you. Maybe an honest candidate will realize they’re not cut out for the position.

Find the Magic

The most difficult part of conducting is an interview is looking for that extra spark. You want someone who shares your passion, who understands your vision, and is eager commit to growing with the company. This is easier said than done. Some people have introverted personalities and while they may not express themselves skillfully, perhaps they’re dedicated and efficient workers or are full of great ideas that simply need to be nurtured. Other people may ease through the interview and impress you with every answer, but they may be artificially charismatic. Use your instinct and experience to find the real interviewee. If you recognize a bit of yourself, you’re probably on the right track.

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Matthew Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Adam. Matthew is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.