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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

4 Tips for Interviewing Potential Employees

Written By: Carol Roth | Comments Off on 4 Tips for Interviewing Potential Employees

Interview QsThe employees that you hire can make or break your business. And while first impressions are important, it can be difficult to discern a prospective hire’s true personality, work ethic and how well they will fit into your organization within the limits of a half-hour interview. So, here are a few tips regarding interview questions that you should ask to help make finding the right employees a little easier:

(1) Start with Softballs

Interviews can be very stressful and if your prospective hire is nervous and anxious, it will be nearly impossible for you to get a real sense of who they truly are. Just like you wouldn’t ask your first date about their feelings about marrying you right away (and if you do this- don’t!), don’t lead with anything too serious as your first interview question, either.

People are much more authentic and genuine when they feel relaxed and comfortable, so to help ease their interview jitters, ask some fun questions like “What’s your favorite movie?” or “What’s your favorite food?” People love to talk about themselves and these “softball” questions will not only help calm nerves and break the ice, they can also help provide some additional insight into their personality in general.

(2) Move to Activities

So, once the ice has been sufficiently melted and you have built up some camaraderie, ask them “What activities do you enjoy doing outside of work?” Finding out what they do for fun will speak volumes about who they really are and more importantly, it will show you if what they really like to do matches up at all with the tasks that they will be responsible for on the job.

In general terms, if their job duties match in some way with what they already enjoy doing, the likelihood that they will be a good fit for the job increases. Now, just because someone loves to sing doesn’t mean that they won’t be good at data entry, but if a person enjoys scrapbooking or some other activity involving organization, it can be a signal that they’d make a great administrative assistant.

(3) Get Specific

Ask them for their opinion on something specific related to your company. This question is invaluable because if the person can’t answer it, it will immediately allow you to weed out those people that haven’t done any research and aren’t serious about the job.

Not doing an internet search to find out about your company prior to an interview should be a deal-breaker, as that is a great indicator of work ethic (or lack thereof!). And if they can answer the question, it allows you to further find out about what value they can bring to your company.

(4) Deal with Issues

Lastly, ask questions about how they would handle a few job-related issues that may pop up. Their answers will show their problem-solving skills, their ability to think on their feet and if they share your company’s values. Make sure that these questions are open-ended, so that they can answer them in any way that they deem appropriate- “yes” or “no” answers won’t tell you enough about what you need to know.

And as a bonus tip, have them perform some job–related tasks to see how well they can actually do what the position requires. Interview questions can only tell you so much, as people generally try to paint themselves in the best possible light, so seeing how they actually perform the work will be a much better indicator of how well they will fit!

What other interview tips do you have? Please share them below.

Thanks to Angel Tuccy of Experience Pros Radio Show, Elisabeth Donati of Creative Wealth International, Steven Howard of Howard Marketing Services, Heidi McCarthy of Customers First! and Rich Gallagher of Point of Contact Group for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.


Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth