Today is Part Two of my "How to Conduct an Interview Like a Boss" series. Last week, I covered how best to prepare for an interview and some general best practices. If you missed out on Part One, you can find that link here. As I mentioned in that post, there is so much more that should go into an conducting an interview with a potential employee than simply pulling up a chair and drilling them with questions. There are a lot of factors at play. You are sizing them up, trying to read their minds and they are sizing you up, trying to determine if they will be happy working with you.
Today, I want to get into the nitty gritty of what kind of questions to ask. Of course you will develop your own list of personal favorites, but I hope that this gives you a starting point. Part Three will be on how to properly follow up after an interview, whether that is scheduling a second interview, checking on references and work history (and what questions to ask), and what to say when you don't hire them.
My 10 Favorite Interview Questions
First, remember from my leading post on this subject that you want to create a conversation, not an interrogation like the photo above. The goal is to get them to relax and speak openly about themselves, rather than feeling like they are on the defensive. You'll get better quality and more natural responses that way, which is what you want.
1. Tell me your story, how did you get to where you are now? I am hoping that they light up telling me their own story, eager to share. I am looking for eye contact and engagement. I am also noting one word answers, a reluctance to share, or claiming that they don't have a story to tell.
2. Tell me what you know about our company. I'm hoping that they've done their online research and maybe even experienced our restaurants. Best case is that they sought us out because they are fans and want to work for our company. I flag it as a negative if they have no clue, just answered the ad. I don't fault someone for not having visited any of our locations, but anyone can look up a website.
3. Describe the best boss you've ever had. I want to know who has been their greatest influence and why. If they've only had negative experiences with their leaders, I have to wonder if they have trouble with authority or learning from others.
4. What motivates you? I want to know the big question - WHY do they do what they do. What drives them, makes them tick? Money is certainly a valid motivation but I am looking for deeper drivers like serving others, being a role model for their children, being the best in their industry.
5. What is one of the biggest obstacles you've ever faced, and how did you overcome it? I want to know what they consider an obstacle and what their problem solving skills are. Also, how did they interact with others to solve the problem?
6. Do you consider yourself an honest person? I like the throw this question in midstream. You will be surprised at how revealing the answers are. Most people are not going to say "No I'm not an honest person" in an interview. But they may stumble or hesitate, thrown off by the directness. If they answer "Yes" which most will, I ask them to give me an example of their honesty. If they struggle to think of a situation where honesty prevailed, then it is a red flag.
7. When I call your last supervisor and ask which area of your work needs the most improvement, what will I learn? I love this question, because they have to be honest here. They cannot control what that supervisor will say, and they likely know the answers. Hopefully they are all great things!
8. What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you? One of the key traits to have in order to get along with others is a good sense of humor. The service industry in particular is unpredictable and we come across all kinds of folks from all sorts of backgrounds. I want to be surrounded by folks that take their jobs seriously but don't take themselves too seriously. I am looking for any kind of story that exhibits an ability to laugh at themselves. A blank stare or "I can't think of anything" is a red flag.
9. How do you go about continuing to develop yourself personally and professionally? I want to hire people that believe in continuously investing in themselves. I listen for whether they take the initiative to pursue their own development or whether they rely on the employer to offer opportunities.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I'm not really looking for what they say here, I am looking for whether they light up talking about their future and opportunities for growth. My follow up question here typically is "What is your dream job?" I love to hear these answers because they can be anything and they indicate what the candidate is passionate about.
Of course these are not the only questions that I ask, and I do not ask all of them every single time. Industry specific questions are important - when I'm interviewing a potential restaurant manager I want to know what their knowledge is about costs of goods sold, labor percentages, and profitability. It is also important to ask what their financial expectations are to make sure they are in line with your own.
What are your favorite interview questions? Do you have trouble coming up with them when you are sitting face to face with someone? Does it make you nervous?