5 Best Interview Questions to Ask Prospective Employees

Hiring new employees costs businesses a lot of money — $4,129 on average, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. With such high stakes, hiring the right employee proves crucial, and that goes beyond whether the individual can do the job. New hires should be assessed for whether they fit the company culture, are eager to learn, and buy into your company vision. So sure, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” may be an OK question, but modern hiring managers need to think outside the box when conducting interviews to ensure they hire the best fit for the company. If you are looking to jazz up the job interview process, try asking the following interview questions.

The 5 Best Interview Questions You Should Ask Potential Employees

1. What do your hobbies tell me about you that your résumé doesn’t?

Let’s face it — you hear a lot of canned answers during the hiring process, and that is probably because you are asking canned questions. Try to get to know your prospective employees on a personal level. Hobbies can tell you a lot about a person. A rock climber is likely someone who isn’t afraid to take risks and enjoys a challenge. Someone who likes to complete jigsaw puzzles might be a good problem-solver. Plus, this gives you a chance to connect with the job candidate. Allowing the job candidate to talk about an interest can help relieve interview jitters, giving you more authentic answers.

2. Tell me about a time you had to complete a work task that was outside your job description. How did you handle it?

Often times, especially with small to medium businesses (SMBs), employees must wear many hats. There may not be a specialized role for each important task, and you need back-up when employees are sick or on PTO. You want to find someone who is a team player and enjoys learning new skills. At the same time, not being afraid to ask for help is an excellent quality.

3. What do you need from an employer in order to be successful?

As much as you want to make sure the person is a fit for your company, they need to be sure the company is a good fit for them. Find out what type of management style an interviewee responds best to and what kind of work atmosphere they prefer. This can open the floor to talk a little bit about your company culture as well. Remember, an interview should be more of a conversation than a game of 20 questions. Knowing what someone needs in a company can help you gauge whether the person would last.

4. What is something you have learned from a mentor?

Successful people seek out mentors to learn more about the industry in which they work. This question can help you find out what drives a potential employee. Maybe they asked a mentor to help them overcome a weakness, such as public speaking. That is the sign of someone who wants to improve. Or they may have asked to learn a different side of the business, which shows they are eager to take on new challenges and develop professionally. Plus, mentors typically cultivate someone who displays potential.

5. What haven’t I asked that you would like to tell me?

There may be something that sets this person apart from the rest, and you just didn’t ask the right question to know it. Aside from letting the job candidate ask questions at the end of the interview, see if they would like to tell you anything else. You never know what you might learn with this question.

If you still aren’t sure someone is a fit, don’t hesitate to invite them back for a second, or even a third, interview. Follow-up interviews are a great time to bring in more of the team a person would be working with to get their thoughts. Peer interviews can be traditional, but you also might consider having some employees take a candidate out for coffee or lunch. This gives them a chance to get to know each other without the pressure of an interview. Your employees already know what it takes to be successful at the company and can be a huge asset in the hiring process. Use all your resources, and take your time. You can never be too careful when hiring someone to help move your company forward.

Are there any unique interview questions that we left out? Let us know below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Stephanie Figy

Stephanie Figy is a business + marketing writer at an A/E firm by day, and a freelance writer by night. In her free time she enjoys traveling with her husband, drinking craft beer, and taking care of her cats and rabbits. You can find out more about her at stephaniefigy.com or @SKFigy.