Questions Employers Need to Ask During the Hiring Process
May 7, 2019
By Jason Eisenberg Community Program Manager for Office Depot
Small business numbers continue to grow in the United States, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down. With an increase of 1.9 million jobs employed by small businesses from 2016 to 2018 (Small Business Administration), there are an estimated 58.9 million small business employees that make up 47.5% of the entire working population. That’s a whole lot of hiring – let’s hope entrepreneurs and small business owners are doing it correctly.
Founder and CEO of Simply Sold, Ashley Wainscott, was generous enough to sit with me and share her methodology when it comes to hiring. Simply Sold has helped people in Austin with the renovation/remodeling process for over 1,300 households in six years, and in 2018 earned the award for Excellence in Opportunity at the 5th Annual City of Austin Small Business Awards. Ashley’s motto “Better every day”, which comes into play when she is in the hiring process, has made Simply Sold a leader in the home preparation/remodeling industry. And for her, a big reason for this was their hiring process.
The next step would be to try to take the values you’ve instilled into your company and to write them in your job description. Ashley’s motto, “Better every day” clearly explains that her company culture is energized by making improvements each and every day – it’s also what her clients should think when using her services. So with that in mind, you already know you’re looking for a candidate with an attitude aligned with the company motto.
As you drill down to specific positions and have a profile in mind for that role, Ashley has this to share:
“Before pursuing candidates, build out the role you are looking for. This means you have a position summary, measurements of their success, experience and general expectations of the role as well as job duties.” - Ashley Wainscott, Simply Sold
In a #Workonomy chat earlier this year, Ashley went further and suggested that you can go back to work on these job descriptions and build them out for roles that don’t even exist yet! I love this idea because if you know what that position will entail a year or two from now, you’ll have a better chance at identifying the best candidate not just for now, but for later.
The last piece of advice before we get into interview questions is where you’re posting these position openings.
Themes for your interview and example questions
One thing I found incredibly valuable when speaking with Ashley is that they don’t use the same questions for every interview. As she scrolled through her massive list of questions, categorized by themes, I noticed certain ones were highlighted.
It’s important to focus on the questions you need to try to ask in order to get you that person that fits the exact job description. Basically, it’s not a scripted exercise. As the employer, it’s up to you to ask the right questions so you can better understand your interviewee. So instead of a list of only questions, Ashley suggests identifying the important aspects of your business and then asking questions from that frame of mind. We’ll use Simply Sold as an example below:
Simply Sold puts a lot of emphasis on four major pillars – accountability, being proactive, active listening and company culture. Based on the position she’s filling, Ashley has a set of questions in each pillar that she can choose from.
Accountability – Tell me of a time when you disagreed with a customer, supervisor or co-worker. What did you do to resolve the conflict and what was the outcome?
How they answer this will tell you how they handle their own accountability, their demeanor and their reactions. The reason why this question is so important is because at Simply Sold “accountability is huge for our company”.
Proactive – Describe a situation in which you forecasted a problem and prepared a strategy for handling it. How did it go?
There are a lot of roles in our company that we need to ensure are filled by a solutions-based and proactive person. The candidates answer would tell us if they’ve ever done this, how they do it, and if it’s something they do commonly or if it’s a one-off situation.
Active Listening – Ask them or state something about the company and then ask them to repeat it later in the interview.
Doing this can ensure your future employee can actively listen rather than make sure they have the best answer for the next question. While it’s not often a make or break when she is hiring, it can be embedded in your training and front of mind when interviewing – if it’s important to your company values.
Company Culture – What does your ideal company culture look like. And what are you looking for in your next job?
Your candidate’s reaction to this question can tell you what they’re feeling, what they’re aligned with and what they’re looking for when working for you. Do they want to grow their skillset or are they just looking for their next job?
“Culture at Simply Sold is super important. We built that into how we live every day and how we operate with our customers.” – Ashley Wainscott, Simply Sold
Simply Sold is well known for their amazing and in-depth service that goes above and beyond their competitors. It’s truly what sets them apart and it’s because they have the right people in place.
Then there are two remaining questions that will always be asked:
Do you have any questions? It is great to have a candidate who shows curiosity and wants to know more. You always want a candidate that will show interest in what you’re doing and isn’t afraid to voice their opinion. Business don’t grow because everyone listens to one person, they grow because people aren’t afraid to shake things up, share ideas and always strive for better. Remember? “Better every day”
What do you already know about the company? This question can ensure the candidate is invested and genuinely curious about the company itself. It illustrates if they’ve done any research or just showed up for an interview hoping to get a job.
“We like to hire people with long-term career growth in mind, and we don’t want someone who’s just looking for a paycheck.”
It’s truly rare to find a candidate that can fit into a job role that has not been scrutinized by the employer. If anything, it’s just lucky. If you’re planning to grow your business, try to make sure your candidates are aligned to the position, your company, and you – the boss.
About the Author Jason Eisenberg is the Community Program Manager for Office Depot, specializing in small business and entrepreneurship. Based out of one of the most exciting cities for startups – Austin, TX – Jason is plugged into the business community, often connecting with thought leaders, entrepreneurs and strategists to help identify and find solutions to common pain points all business owners share.
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All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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