As an employer in the age of unlimited connectivity, where social networking and powerful search engines like Google make it easier than ever to research your potential new employees, the job interview is still the best tool at your disposal for finding the best people to work for you. However, for prospective employees, getting through an interview can sometimes be viewed as if it were a grade school test, where there is only one correct answer, and a series of correct answers results in a pass. To this end it can be difficult to know whether or not you are getting honest answers from your interviewees. If you can’t get a good sense for how a person will actually behave on the job, how can you be confident that you’ll be hiring the right person for the job? Instead of sticking to the classic interview questions like “what do you think is your biggest weakness?” and “tell me about yourself,” try some of these more creative questions. Not only will you learn some interesting things about your candidates, but you’ll also see how they handle stress when faced with questions that they won’t have anticipated.
1. “How would you handle an emergency situation in the workplace?”It’s a fact of life that sometimes emergencies happen. Maybe there is an anecdote you can relate about a time when there was a sudden medical emergency in your business, for example. Ask your interviewee how they might react if someone were to need medical attention on short notice, be it a coworker or a customer, and express that it is important as an employee of your business that they be prepared for any situation. The goal of this question is to try and get a sense of how your applicant will act and react under pressure; are they the sort of person who steps up and takes charge where others might panic, or are they the sort of person who will tend to defer to authority in most situations? You’ll have a great idea of how the applicant will represent your company in crisis with this question.
2. “What kind of managerial style do you like best?”
Ask this question to feel out what kind of environment your applicant thrives in and if that environment is like the one you’ve built. Be self-aware when it comes to how you run your own business and the ways in which you deal with your employees, and compare the answer you receive against that. The applicant should have no concept of how exactly you or your other managers run the business, so ideally the answer you’re getting is honest. They’ll want to work in an environment that lets them succeed, too, meaning there is little incentive to try and guess at what answer you want to hear. If they stumble on this question, chances are they don’t have a good sense of how they work.
3. “When was a time you made a mistake on the job, and how did you learn from it?”
This is an excellent question because, unlike asking about one’s “greatest weakness,” it allows you to get some insight in to how your applicant actually performs on the job. Struggling to come up with an answer for this question or an attempt to dodge it altogether should be huge red flag for you as an employer. You want to hire people who are willing to admit that they are human and make mistakes, but are also capable of demonstrating that they make an effort to avoid repeating the mistakes they’ve made in the past.