If you are the boss of a small business and you need to hire, you probably don’t have much in extra time and resources to spend on the hiring process. That stinks, because weeding out the bad eggs and hiring great employees would make your life so much more prosperous. Here are the questions you should be asking and why.
Hire employees who are effective at handling conflicts
It’s all about their problem-solving attitude, really. The best potential new-hire contenders are those that maturely look for reasonable solutions.
In asking them questions on an interview, you are trying to find out how they react to difficult, but everyday problems. For example, ask them to tell you about an angry or unreasonable customer that they had to deal with. One that stands out in memory. Don’t hint that what you are REALLY looking to see is their SOLUTION to this problem, and the magnitude in which the applicant seeks and finds that solution.
This is easy to do. The applicant will vent about the event for a certain amount of time, and they will talk about how they solved it for another percent of the time of their answer. Grade them on the time they spend on the solution.
If the potential new hire spends the entire time complaining about how crappy and unreasonable the customer was, then they fail the question. This is not a problem solver. If you find an applicant that says something like “oh yes, this one thing would come up again and again”, and then he or she goes right into telling you about the efforts to solve that problem – there’s your winner.
This is why you must ask three or four questions. You must make sure that you have a reasonable sample if their personality. Also be sure not to clue them in on what you are really looking for.
In general, these results-oriented personality types will be much better at dealing with your customers and your other employees. They will be more productive, more coach-able, and more motivating to those around them. Applicants that just ramble and complain about the situations in your questions will be the opposite.
Once you get good at this, the difference in your overall employee performance will be dramatic. Your life will be easier and the business will be more prosperous.
The interview questions
- Tell me about a memory of your worst customer ever.
- Did you have a boss who asked you to do unreasonable things? Tell me about it.
- Did you have a boss who made you work on things you didn’t know how to do or who didn’t give you enough guidance?
- Did you ever work with someone who you found exceptionally difficult to work with?
- Can you tell me about a time in where you were asked to do things outside of your normal job description?
- Did a customer or a co-worker ever blame you for something you didn’t do?
Remember that you are looking for the ratio of time that your applicant spend on complaining or venting, as compared to the amount of time (if at all) that they talk about solutions. The highest scoring applicants will almost certainly be your best choices.
Please feel free to share you experiences with these concepts in the comments.