Green brick wall outside business learning how to hire employees
Managing people

How to hire the right employee

A job interview is a critical factor in hiring the right person to join your team.

16 February 2023

What to look for

When you are looking for a staff member who will fit both the role and your company’s culture, how well you handle the questioning technique is paramount.

What to look for when hiring employees depends on the role, however, it’s important to determine whether the candidate has the required knowledge, skills and experience, as well as the behavioural traits and characteristics needed to succeed in the job. You should also consider whether they will fit comfortably into your business’ culture and with the rest of your team.

Interviewing to find the right candidate

Start the interview with a few ice breakers to relax the candidate. Simple questions like: “Did you have trouble finding us?” “Did you have problems finding a parking spot?” and “Did it take you long to get here?” are ideal conversation starters.

Your questioning technique will vary depending on the role, responsibilities and company hiring guide, but the most successful type of questions tend to be behaviourally-based. This is rooted in the premise that past behaviour is a fairly accurate predictor of future behaviour. Examples of a behavioural question are:

  • “Tell me about the time you were in this type of situation and how did you solve it?”
  • “Describe a project you have implemented from concept to completion. What were the issues, what strategies did you use, and what was the result?”

Other good approaches could be problem-based questions, which make the applicant think strategically and creatively and enable you to assess how well the applicant makes decisions. The subjects you may want to cover include:

  • financial background
  • industry knowledge
  • communication
  • leadership
  • vision
  • strategic thinking
  • business acumen
  • legal, cultural, social and political aspects that may have a bearing on the position or the company.

If you are filling a senior management, supervisory or leadership role, consider having a wide-ranging discussion, rather than asking specific questions, based on the required areas of experience, skills and personal attributes.

Ten questions for choosing the ideal applicant

1. “What skills and experience do you bring to this role?” You are looking for skills and experience that match the role’s specifications.

2. “Give me examples of your strengths, weaknesses and limitations?” You are looking for attributes and hindrances that will impact on how well the job will be carried out.

3. “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” You are looking for ambition and whether the applicant is prepared to work harder to achieve their goals.

4. “Tell us about a project that didn’t go according to plan. How did you deal with the situation?” You are looking at the applicant’s ability to think strategically, keep a clear head and adapt to new situations quickly.

5. “How do you deal with a team member who is not performing and is causing problems for your work?” You are looking at the applicant’s ability to work effectively as part of a team and experience in dealing with group dynamics.

6. “Tell me about a time a customer complained about a product or service. How did you deal with it?” You are looking for the applicant’s approach to customer service and client relations.

7. “What do you consider has been your greatest achievement so far and why?” You are interested in their goal and what strategies they used to achieve it.

8. “How do you react when you realise you have made a mistake?” This assesses whether the applicant is prepared to take responsibility for their errors or sees them as other people’s problems.

9. “Do you consider yourself a manager or leader?” This is designed to assess how the applicant views their strengths in these roles. They are not interchangeable, and it is important to focus on whatever is more important for a particular position.

10. “What do you know about our company?” If they have taken the time to become familiar with your products and services, it is an indication of how genuinely interested the applicant is in working for the company.

Tips for effective interviewing

  • Start with small talk and ask several easy questions until the candidate seems relaxed.
  • Follow the 80-20 rule – managers only speak 20% of the time in an interview and listen for 80%.
  • Be prepared – always take time to read the resume beforehand.
  • Match interview questions to the skill set required.
  • Ask behavioural-based questions to get a feel for future behaviour.
  • Ask problem-based questions to assess the applicant's ability to think strategically and creatively, and make decisions.
  • Understand the competencies required for the position.
  • Provide candidates with job descriptions.
  • Make the recruitment process and steps clear to candidates.
  • Remain neutral, don’t let a candidate walk away assuming they have the job because you think it makes them feel better.
  • Watch for the candidate's non-verbal responses (gestures, body language, etc.) to questions.

My Business Workplace has an interview guide checklist ready to download as well as employment contracts and an induction checklist. 

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