In a small business there is no room for bad hires. Each employee plays a crucial role in morale, productivity and company growth. One of the best things you can do as a business owner is spend time and effort on getting the right people. You want someone whose values, views and behaviours align with the those of the business. For the right person, your business will align well with their identity. This will lead to them being more engaged and loyal. For that reason, the interview shouldn’t just be about having the right skills. You need someone with the right personality. You also want someone who can switch between different roles and manage problems by themselves. With that in mind, here are the six interview questions a small business should ask a candidate before hiring them.
- Why do you love this industry?
In a small company, employees are required to wear multiple hats, jump between problems and put in whatever effort is required to get a job done. All of this happens when an employee has a sense of ownership in the business. They need to be invested in the business success. This will only happen if they are truly passionate about the job. If there’s no passion for the industry, it isn’t going to work out. They’ll just take their skills somewhere else. This question allows you to discover if they are passionate. It should be obvious whether they are just putting it on or if they really do have a strong interest. They should be able to demonstrate a track record of interest in this industry, even if it has just been as a hobby or in a volunteer capacity.
2. If you did not have to work, what would you do?
This question should give you an insight into their personality. If they are purposeful and motivated, it’s unlikely they’d be happy on a permanent holiday. It’s likely they’ll have some long term goal or dream they’d like to achieve. You can use this information to work out if the job is a good fit for them and what they want from the future. This question will probably come as a surprise to them, which is another benefit. You’ll be able to see how they think on their feet and compose themselves when thrown a curveball.
3. How will you provide excellent experiences to our customers?
Almost all roles in small businesses involve some interaction with customers. The primary form of marketing for small businesses is usually word of mouth, so getting this right is crucial. The right candidate should display that they are ready and willing to provide great experiences to customers, regardless of their role. From their answer, you should be able to gauge how much they actually enjoy customer service. Are they excited and passionate about impressing your customers?
4. Tell me about a conflict you had with a manager or co-worker, and how you resolved it
This question is useful in two ways. It will allow you to spot candidates who lack the honesty or self awareness to recall an incident. If they genuinely haven’t had one (perhaps they’re just out of school), ask them to tell you about a conflict with a friend or family member. Your objective here is getting a feel for how well the candidate deals with people. In small teams, problems need to be dealt with quickly and maturely to avoid becoming major issues. You’ll also need someone who can easily resolve potential conflicts with customers. You can’t afford to hire someone with a ‘it’s my way or the highway’ attitude.
5. How will you handle the challenges of the role?
Every role has challenges. It’s worth being transparent about them with candidates. Let them know what hurdles you anticipate. Perhaps it’s a marketing role with a very limited budget. Maybe it’s a design role but the brand needs a complete overhaul. The best candidates will be keen to overcome these challenges and find a way to succeed. You’d also be able to spot candidates who are not as motivated to find solutions to existing problems. Look for someone who welcomes challenges as opportunities to prove themselves.
6. What else do you feel I need to know that we haven’t discussed?
This question gives the candidate the opportunity to talk about anything that might be relevant that has been missed. There might be previously unmentioned factors like skills and experience relevant to the role. Or perhaps the employee has particular requirements to discuss – like the fact they need to pick up their child from school one day a week, or have a holiday booked for a few months time. In a small business you’ll be working closely and it’s important to know if there is anything that is going to come up.
6. After the interview, take the person out to lunch
If things are looking promising, it’s worth spending a bit more time with the candidate to make sure you can see yourself working with this person every day. Running a small business is stressful. The last thing you need is a personality clash with your staff. Small businesses are like partnerships. If you don’t get along with your employee on a personal level, it’s not going to work. Suss out if the candidate seems like someone you could build a strong working relationship with. If the answer is no, it doesn’t matter how skilled they are, the ongoing friction won’t be conducive to business success. Whereas if you get along, it’ll be easier to manage issues on the fly, while focusing on creating a successful business together.