Ask these 7 interview questions to avoid hiring duds

Mar 29, 2012
Ask these 7 interview questions to avoid hiring duds

With the unemployment rate still hovering at around 8 percent, many small business owners believe that it should be easy to hire great people since so many are out of work. Wrong! Great people are typically the ones that are already employed and, in most economies, are difficult to find.

Here are seven key questions to ask a prospective employee in order to separate the "doers" from "duds."

  1. What are your goals for this job? Ensure that their personal and career goals match your company goals. This is the golden rule of hiring and retaining qualified people. When these two goals diverge, employees leave or end up being terminated.
  2. How do your skills complement the other employees that are already working here?The best teams are made of people that have different skills that all collaborate for a common company goal. Don’t be afraid to design specific tests around these skills.
  3. What is your target compensation?Talk about money in the first interview, since many times what you can afford to pay differs from what the employee needs. Don’t try to convince an employee into taking a lower salary, since in the long run they will keep looking for one that pays them what they want.
  4. Ask for specific examples of their success. Many people can give a “good interview,” but it is tougher to provide specific examples of how they have been successful in previous jobs. Ask them to discuss specific companies, places, and dates. Do what you can to confirm this information.
  5. What kind of training did you receive at your last job? This is an indicator of how much training they may need or be willing to accept to do a great job.
  6. Why did you leave your last job? What would they say about you now?The importance of this question is to see if they are holding any resentment about the last company they worked for. All things being equal, always choose a positive attitude over skill.
  7. Listen more than speak. Most business owners talk way too much during a job interview. Remember in the first interview, the candidate needs to do the selling.

What questions do you use to conduct an effective interview? Tell us here.

Barry Moltz
Barry Moltz gets small businesses unstuck. A national expert on entrepreneurship, he has given more than 100 speeches to audiences ranging in size from 20 to 20,000. He has taught as an adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He hosts his own radio show, "Business Insanity Talk Radio," and blogs for the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Now and Crain’s Chicago Enterprise City. He also writes for the American Express OPEN Forum and Moltz, who founded an angel investor group and an angel fund, is a former advisory member of the board of the Angel Capital Education Foundation.

His first book, You Need to Be A Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business , describes the ups and downs and emotional trials of running a business. Currently in its fourth reprint, it has been translated into Chinese, Russian, Korean and Thai. Moltz also authored Bounce! Failure, Resiliency and the Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success and B-A-M! Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World . His fourth book, Small Town Rules: How Small Business and Big Brands Can Prosper in a Connected Economy , will be published by Pearson in March 2012. For more information, visit