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6 Questions to ask any potential new employee

By Tim Fuell - April 5, 2013

It’s a new tax year and although those green shoots are not exactly blooming, more and more businesses are looking to add to their workforce. It is a recruiters market however with plenty of applicants but getting the right person for the role and for your your company is never easy. So here’s 6 questions you may consider putting to your applicants when they arrive for interview, to help you pick the best:

1. What is your greatest strength?

The old ones are the best. How people see themselves is essential to evaluating them with minimal information and time. Not only what that strength is but how they sell that strength to you is important in understanding the thought processes of the person in front of you. If they looked stumped on such a regular question, it may be they haven’t prepared well for the interview, which may suggest they are not actually that bothered about the role or your company.

2. What do you see is the most essential quality required for the person taking this role?

At the very least this question will help you identify whether they have read and understood your job description, so have that in front of you to refer back to. A stock answer is fine and a more creative answer may highlight an ability to understand what the role is about in practice – or may also identify the role that the applicant really wanted to apply for.

3. What skills do you wish to improve on?

You should be looking for any new hire to help you move your business forward. You should therefore also be looking for people who have ambition in themselves too. People who are happy with their lot are likely to just see the job as a ‘come in, do some bits’ go home’ role. In the current marketplace that probably isn’t good enough. Don’t expect too much from people but equally expect some drive and ambition if they are to help power your business to a higher level.

4. If you were to describe in one sentence what it is we do here what would it be?

Again this will help identify those who have done some research pre-interview and those who haven’t. Even if they offer a different slant from your official line, find out why? It could be that your external image is not as you intended. It is also worth noting down their response as it may help you re-focus your marketing strategy.

5. What job role do you imagine yourself in in 5 years time?

This is a fairly unfair question really, as too ambitious and you may see them as a little cocky, yet if they see themselves in the same role do they lack drive? Equally who knows what any of us will be doing in 5 years? Will our jobs even exist with the rate at which technology moves? Yet, it is a good stock question that stimulates thought and in an interview you should be looking as much at how the applicant addresses a potential problem as to what their actual response is.

6. What was the most valuable lesson you learned while working for your previous employers?

If this is their first role, then relate it to any educational setting or organisational role you can identify from their application. Learning how they saw themselves in their previous settings will give you an understanding as to how they may fit in at your organisation too. It is important that they can identify where they have learnt too. We all learn something every day. Those who think they haven’t are probably not addressing work with the correct attitude or aptitude.

No doubt you will have your own stock of questions, but remember you are looking as much to how they answer as to what they answer. Talking on new employee in the current climate is a big commitment so it is wise to make sure the new recruit understands that and looks set to offer the same commitment to you too.