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Hiring? The Best Interview Questions to Ask And Why... (And Questions You’ll Want To Avoid) Special Report From: EasySmallBusinessHR.com

Finding and hiring the best candidates starts with asking the right interview questions. The five questions highlighted below are some of the top interview questions for employers to ask during an interview. These questions can help you to better assess whether the job applicant has the level of skills and experience needed: 1. We all make mistakes on the job. Share with me 2 mistakes that you have made in your current or past job. How did you resolve these mistake(s) and what did you learn from the mistake? Why Ask This Question? Even the best employees make mistakes. This question requires the job applicant to provide specific work related examples that highlight their ability to recognize and acknowledge that they have made mistakes. It also demonstrates the applicant’s ability to problem solve, correct their mistakes, and make decisions under stress. In some circumstances, mistakes can’t be corrected. Whether a mistake is “correctable” or not, the question also gives you the opportunity to understand what the candidate has learned from the mistake. The answer should demonstrate that in some way, the mistake became a learning experience which allowed the employee to do a better job when faced with a similar situation in the future. 2. Asking a Hypothetical Question: It’s been 2 years since I hired you into the (role). When you look back on your accomplishments, in what ways would you measure your success in the role? Why Ask This Question? This type of hypothetical question is one that you should ask, after you have clearly explained the job responsibilities and expectations to the person being interviewed.

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The goal of this question is to determine how well the interviewee understands the job requirements for the role and to get the job applicant to share with you how they will directly add value to your job based on their overall experience. You’ll also gain some insight on the level and depth of experience that the job applicant has based on their ability to apply concrete “hypothetical” accomplishments based on the requirements of the job. 3. If I were to contact your current supervisor today for a reference, what would he/she say about your work performance, attention to detail, and commitment to the job? Why Ask This Question? This question can give you a sense of how honest and “self aware” the candidate is about their work experience. I often use the candidates’ response as part of my reference check. For example, if the candidate states that “my current supervisor will say that I was a dedicated worker who was always on time, worked hard and excelled at all tasks”, when calling to check the actual reference, I will share the employee’s feedback with their employer and then ask that they confirm the employee’s assessment. This is also a good time to ask the reference to provide specific work related examples that support the applicant’s assessment of their job skills. 4. Share with me 3 work-related examples that support your statement that you have strong customer service skills? Why Ask This Question? Many applicants will tell you that they have “strong” or “excellent” customer service skills, (or that they are strong or excel in other areas), but the “proof is in the pudding”. Asking for specific work related examples that support their statement will give you a very clear sense of your potential hires’ interpersonal skills and how they perceive and treat customers or clients. You can interchange “customer service” with any job related task that you would like to learn more about from your job applicant. 5. Based on what you know about this job, what is it about your past or current work experience that makes you the most qualified person for this position?

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Why Ask This Question? This question requires the job applicant to give real life examples of their specific experience and skills sets and how this experience can be applied to the job that you are hiring for. Asking job appropriate and open ended interview questions will go a long way towards helping you to get a strong and clear picture of your job applicant’s overall experience and ability which in turn will increase the likelihood of hiring the best job candidate. Now let’s focus on the types of questions that you should always avoid asking when interviewing job candidates. These questions include:         

Are you married or divorced? Do you have children? Are you single? What church do you attend? Your name sounds very unusual, what ethnicity are you? How old are you? What year did you graduate from high school or college? What country are you from? You look very exotic. What race are you?

There are a few exceptions to this “questions to avoid” rule. For example, if you are interviewing teenagers for a particular job, there may be restrictions on whether you can hire the teenager based on their age or based on the type of work that you are hiring the teen to perform. This is at least true in the United States. Using this example, you will want to make sure that you are not violating any state laws by finding out during the interview whether the candidate is of legal working age. The best way to do this is to ask the question, “Are you at least 16 years of age or older”, instead of “How old are you?” There is a subtle difference here. Asking “Are you at least 16 years of age or older” allows the candidate to state yes or no without you probing them on their age. (Don’t shoot the messenger! You’ll have to be just that careful given U.S. Fair Labor Standards laws).

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I have several years of human resources management experience, but I’m not an employment lawyer. I recommend that if you have any questions that you want to ask during the interview that are personal in nature, but you think that the questions are pertinent to the job you should always consult with an employment lawyer, or call the Department of Labor’s National Contact Center at 866-4-USA-DOL. There may be other resources for those who manage employees outside of the U.S. Remember that any question that you ask that does not relate to the job or the experience needed, or questions that are personal in nature may leave the candidate wondering if the reason they were not hired has less to do with their experience and more to do with your opinions about their culture, their personal life, their beliefs, or their age. Job candidates who perceive that they are being treated unfairly may be more likely to complain about your hiring process. Remember, if your interview question has nothing to do with the skills, tasks, or the experience needed to perform the job effectively, you should not be asking the question. Need More Employee Hiring and Managing Tips? Get Timely Free Advice on: 

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Hiring? The Best Interview Questions to Ask and Why