Interview questions often have a specific goal attached to them. Recruiters and hiring managers want to learn something about a candidate based on their responses. Even the most unique and seemingly unrelated questions have a reason for being a part of the interview.
What are some of these questions that small businesses ask? What should you be prepared for the next time you walk into an interview? We asked 12 professionals to reveal their go-to interview questions for small business positions.
If You Had Billboard…
I stole this question from one of my favorite podcasts, but find so much value in asking it. Towards the end of the interview ask the candidate, “If you were given a billboard near a busy highway that you could put anything on it, what would it say?” It allows you to see what values they hold most important, and learn what message they want others to hear. It’s a great question, and always creates great discussion.
Zack McCarty, Qwick
What Would Keep You From a Bigger Company?
Asking “What would keep you from accepting a job at a bigger company when presented with the opportunity?” will help you gauge how committed a candidate is to work for your small business. It’s easy for people to get swept up in the glamour of working for a big, corporate company, so you want to make sure you find people that have what it takes to work for the little guys.
Ryan Nouis, TruPath
Ask Situational Questions
Paint a picture for them of a real problem or obstacle that has happened in the company and ask them how they would handle it if given this position. It will force them to be quick on their feet, since this is not a question someone can prepare for, and will allow you to evaluate their problem-solving skills.
Peter Babichenko, Sahara Case
What Is the Most Complex Thing You Know About?
My favorite question to ask in interviews is “What is the most complex thing you know about? Can you explain it to me in five minutes or less?” I borrowed this question from Google because I find that it helps me better understand a candidate’s passions as well as their communication skills. I have had individuals explain everything from blood typing to mastering the perfect winged liner. It’s a fun question that candidates are rarely prepared for, but it separates the good from the great.
Nikitha Lokareddy, Small Business SEO
What Are Examples of Professional Development You’ve Undertaken?
I love asking this question because it’s great at highlighting candidates that are looking to continue to evolve and improve. When you’re hiring employees for a growing company, you need to find people who actually want to take on new challenges, learn new things and grow beyond their current job description. If someone is motivated enough to do that on their own, they are much more likely to thrive in an environment where that’s expected.
Adam Sanders, Successful Release
Please Describe Your Ideal Work Situation
This includes types of leaders, ideal setting, type of training, etc. I like asking this question because it helps me to assess whether the candidate will be a good fit for the type of work situation for which I’m interviewing. If a candidate says he/she is used to working independently, and my position is in a very collaborative team, by sharing that information, the candidate raises a question that warrants some further discussion before I’m comfortable with the fit — regardless of his/her qualifications.
Colleen McManus, Senior Consultant
When Have You had to Make a Quick Decision Without a Manager?
“Can you tell me about a time when you had to make a quick decision without your manager, which was time-critical? What was it, and how did it turn out?” I ask this to make people think about how independent they are and if they can take bias for action. In startups, making quick decisions with calculated risks are essential. It also highlights your ability to think under pressure and react to situations you’re not used to or necessarily trained for, which brings out the ‘real you’ when under pressure.
Ahmed Mir, Nature and Bloom
When Have You Experienced Constructive Criticism?
Their response will show if they are open to learning new things or stuck in their ways. It also shows a human side to the candidate, as everyone has made mistakes or needed to grow from where they started. In addition, it’s a good way to see if the candidate is flexible and can adapt.
Jessica Schocker, Recruitment Consultant
What Is Your Perfect Opportunity?
This allows the candidate to tell me not only what they are looking for in a company but also in their future hiring manager and team. I love hearing the candidate painting the picture of their perfect opportunity and then showing them how well the opportunity fits that ideal job.
Tasia Andersen, Recruiter
What Types of Things Do You Like to Do Outside of the Workday?
The answer to this question will often lead to discussions of their interests and passions, making them feel more comfortable in the interview process. It also gives us an idea of what motivates them in life. Are they social? Do they initiate? Are they motivated by personal development or a desire to improve the community? What are their hobbies and interests? Would they fit in with colleagues?
Keith Piscitello, Simply Sophisticated Wealth Planning, LLC
Who Is Your Role Model, Living or Dead?
We can learn quite a bit about a person if we take a look at the people he/she admires. Furthermore, it’s a good psychological test, as you can see how the interviewee responds. Does he answer straight away with a cliche one-liner or does he take the time to think and deliver a sincere answer?
Snezhina Piskova, Oliver Wicks
What Didn’t I Ask You Today, That You Wish I Had?
Almost always I ask this question. Then I invite them to answer it. I do this because I’ve found that this question is either something they’ve done that they feel is really aligned to our company or it is something they are quite concerned about. I usually follow-up with asking about what they’ve since learned or applied from that scenario, which, to me, is a truly interesting discovery. How people grow and apply experiences in the workplace is very telling about how they will develop and grow into the future.
Nicole Spracale, Coaching & Consulting