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Hiring 101: Questions to Ask (and NOT Ask) for Finding the Perfect Fit

Finding the right employees can be like a game of Where’s Waldo. Sometimes you’ll spot them right away, but more often than not, you’ll spend a maddening amount of time trying to see past a chaotic mass of nonsense and distractions.


While there’s no shortcut to building a team of A-players that embodies your company’s vision and values, there are certain strategies you can use to cut through the clutter. Today, we will look at five questions you should always ask, five questions you should never ask, and five questions to consider asking to help you locate the ideal candidates for your business. 


Five Questions You Should Always Ask


  1.  "Tell me about your experience relevant to this role." This classic question allows candidates to showcase their skills and expertise directly related to the position. Look for alignment between their experience and your business needs, like finding the missing puzzle piece that completes the picture.
  2.  "How do you handle challenges or conflicts in the workplace?" This question delves into a candidate's problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Look for individuals who display resilience, adaptability, and the ability to navigate tricky situations gracefully. Ask for specific examples; don’t let them skate by with generic anecdotes. 
  3.   "What attracted you to our company and this particular role?" Understanding a candidate's motivations reveals their level of interest and alignment with your company culture. Look for genuine enthusiasm and a clear understanding of what makes your business unique. 
  4.   "Can you provide an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership or took initiative?" This question uncovers a candidate's potential to lead and drive positive change within your organization. Look for individuals who have taken ownership and exhibited leadership qualities, even in unexpected situations.
  5.  "How do you approach continuous learning and professional development?" A growth mindset is essential for success in a rapidly evolving business landscape. Look for candidates who embrace learning opportunities, seek new knowledge, and display a thirst for personal and professional growth.


Five Questions You Should Never Ask


  1.   "What is your age, marital status, or religious affiliation?" Discrimination based on age, marital status, or religion is unethical and illegal. Focus on job-related qualifications and characteristics instead.
  2. "Do you have any disabilities or health issues?" Inquiries about disabilities or health issues are considered discriminatory and irrelevant to a candidate's ability to perform the job. Focus on assessing their qualifications and ability to meet job requirements.
  3.  "Are you planning to start a family?" Questions about family planning are discriminatory and infringe upon a candidate's right to privacy. Avoid basing hiring decisions on such personal matters and focus on qualifications and skills.
  4.  "What is your political affiliation?" Political beliefs have no bearing on a candidate's ability to perform a job. Respect individual privacy and avoid questions that may lead to bias or discrimination.
  5.  "What is your salary history?" Salary history questions can perpetuate wage disparities and aren't unreliable indicators of a candidate's worth. Instead, focus on discussing salary expectations and the value they bring to the role.

Five Questions You Might Consider Asking


  1.  "Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work. How did you handle it?" This question assesses a candidate's accountability, humility, and ability to learn from their mistakes. Look for individuals who take responsibility.
  2.  "Can you describe a time when you went above and beyond to deliver exceptional results?" This question highlights a candidate's dedication, work ethic, and commitment to excellence. Look for individuals who exhibit a strong drive to exceed expectations and consistently deliver outstanding outcomes.
  3. "How do you collaborate with and support your colleagues?" Understanding a candidate's teamwork and collaboration skills is crucial for a harmonious work environment. Look for individuals who value collaboration, actively contribute to team dynamics, and support their colleagues' success.
  4.  "Tell me about a time when you faced a professional setback or failure. How did you recover from it?" This question evaluates a candidate's resilience, adaptability, and ability to learn from challenges. Look for individuals who demonstrate a growth mindset and the ability to bounce back from setbacks with determination.
  5.  "What are your long-term career goals, and how do you see yourself growing within our company?" This question gauges a candidate's ambition, alignment with your organization, and potential for a long-term commitment. Look for individuals who have a clear vision of their career path and are enthusiastic about growing with your company.

Your employees can make or break your business, which is why the hiring process should be taken seriously and afforded the time necessary to do it well. By asking the right questions from the start, you should be able to weed out the duds and surround yourself with the winners (or, Waldos, as it were).


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