To grow your online business, you might find yourself hiring employees. When you’re hiring, it’s essential to ask the right questions to make sure someone is a good fit for your business.
Some interview questions are obvious. For example, it’s expected that you’ll want potential employees to review their qualifications and previous job experience.
But how do you really gain insight into whether a potential employee is a good fit? Of course, you want their skill set to be adequate, but you also want them to fit into your company culture.
To help you design the most effective questions to ask employees during an interview – be it an in person or a virtual interview, we’ve compiled a list of questions that fall into five categories: personality, culture fit, background and experience, work habits, work style, and career goals.
Getting an idea of what your someone is like as a person will help you determine if you want them as an employee. The answers to these questions will give you a sense of the candidate’s accountability level and how they handle mistakes. Examples of personal interview questions include:
- What are three character traits your friends would use to describe you?
- What are some character traits you wish you had but don’t?
- What negative character traits do you possess?
- What is your proudest personal achievement?
- Give an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it?
- What is the last book you read, and what did you think of it?
- What is your favorite movie, and why?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- What are your dreams for the future?
- Do you have a personal mission statement? If so, what is it?
- What magazines do you subscribe to?
- What would you do if you won the lottery?
- If you could spend a million dollars any way you wanted, what would you spend it on?
- What is your favorite childhood memory?
- What do you want to achieve in life?
Culture Fit Questions
It’s imperative to hire someone who fits into your company culture. The answer you are looking for to these types of questions will depend on your created business environment or the environment you are trying to build.
For example, suppose your company culture is one where your employees are like family, and you routinely go for drinks or go for a meal together. In that case, you may not want to hire someone with a dislike for company functions or social gatherings.
Ensure the person you’re hiring shares your philosophy of what makes an online business great to work for. Here are a few examples of culture fit questions:
- What attracted you to this company?
- What does your ideal company look like?
- What do you already know about the company?
- What’s your ideal work environment like?
- What is your opinion of your previous bosses? What made them good or bad, and why?
- What did you dislike most about your last job?
- What qualities do you like in your co-workers?
- Who inspires you and why?
- What motivates you to work hard every day?
- What kind of personalities do you work best with and why?
- What is your ideal company culture?
- If you could open a business, what type of business would it be and why?
- What are your expectations for working at this company?
- What is your superpower?
Background and Work Experience Questions
Questions about a candidate’s background and previous work experience are still important. These are the more traditional interview questions where you determine if someone is qualified for the position they’re interviewing for.
These should be the most straightforward questions to answer. If they’re not, the candidate likely doesn’t have an appropriate skill set for the job. Ask enough of these questions to get a good idea of their skills and give your candidate opportunities to show they can do the job. Tailor these questions according to the specific job you’re interviewing for.
- What types of jobs have you previously had?
- What were your duties in your last position?
- What did you like most or least about your previous position?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- What is the number one thing you learned in your last job?
- If you are hired, what is your strategy for success in the first 30 days of this job?
- What skills do you have that qualify you for the job?
- Do you have any special training that qualifies you for this position?
- Can you describe how to … (end this question with a function specific to the job you are interviewing for)?
Work Style and Work Habits Questions
Once you have determined if a potential employee is qualified for the job, you should take some time to decide how they work. This batch of questions differs from the other categories because it focuses on work style. Workstyle includes things like whether someone is detail-oriented or a big-picture person.
It also addresses if someone deals with conflict or avoids it. Again, what answers you are looking for will depend on your philosophies as an employer. Examples of work style and work habit questions to ask are:
- What strategies do you employ to keep yourself organized?
- Do you consider yourself detail-oriented or big-picture-oriented?
- What was the last project you led?
- What are your strengths as an employee?
- What are your weaknesses as an employee?
- When are you most satisfied with your job?
- What makes you stand out from other candidates?
- Give an example of a time you went above and beyond for a work project.
- Describe a time when your work was criticized. How did you deal with it?
- Have you ever had to give someone negative feedback? How did you approach this?
- What would you do if you were working on a team with a member who was not doing their share of the work?
- What would you do if your supervisor asked you to do something you disagreed with?
- How do you handle a situation where you can’t get all your tasks for the day done in time?
- How would your previous co-workers describe you?
- Give an example of a conflict you have worked through with an employer or a co-worker.
Career Goal Questions
The final area you want to discover with your interview questions is where your candidate sees themselves in the future. Knowing their long-term career goals will help you determine whether they will expect future salary increases, if this position will be long-term, or if it’s a stepping stone to something else. Here are some examples:
- Why did you apply for this job?
- Where do you see your career five years from now?
- Why did you or do you intend to leave your current job?
- Tell me why I should hire you.
- What type of salary are you looking for?
- If you were to write your own job description for the next year, what would it be?
- How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
- Do you have any educational or career development goals?
- What are your goals if you get this job?
Other Solid Interview Questions
Some interview questions don’t fit into these categories but can still give you great insight into whether you want to hire someone. These include behavioral, situational, and disruptive lines of questioning.
When is it Okay to Bend the Rules?
The answer to this one should really be never, but take note if someone says they make exceptions when they have a valid reason. Make sure their rule-breaking exceptions line up with yours.
Can You Teach Me Something in Under Five Minutes?
This gives your candidate a chance to demonstrate how well they think on their feet and demonstrate their knowledge.
How Would You Explain Your Job to Your Mom?
The purpose of this question is to see your candidate’s ability to simplify something complex. It will also show you what they value most about their work and if it aligns with your values.
These are questions totally irrelevant to the interview. What is eight times eight? Can you write in cursive? Name a city you want to visit. These questions show you how well organized your candidate’s thought process is. You also may want to consider if you wish to hire someone who doesn’t know their multiplication tables.
What is the STAR Method When Interviewing?
The STAR method is used as a way for potential employees to structure their answers to interview questions about their behavior. These are the questions that ask candidates to describe a past event and how they dealt with it.
STAR stands for:
- Situation – who, what, where, when, and why?
- Task – your role, assignment, or goal within the situation.
- Action – what did you do?
- Result – what happened or what did you accomplish as a result of your actions?
The STAR method provides interview responses that include a story with specific examples. The acronym helps organize the answer by working step-by-step through the acronym. Interview questions that use the STAR method give you a sense of the candidate’s sense of judgment, handle pressure, leadership potential, and self-awareness.
Examples of STAR questions:
- Tell me about a time you had to delegate tasks to others to complete a project
- Tell me of a time you were reprimanded or criticized for your job performance
- Can you describe a time when you implemented an unpopular decision? How did you handle it?
- Tell of a time when you’ve had to make a difficult decision. How did you decide what decision to make?
What is a Good Question to Ask at the End of an Interview?
“Are there any questions you have for me regarding this position?” or “Is there anything else you feel I should know regarding your qualifications for this position?” are good questions to sum up the interview. It allows your candidate to tell you anything they feel you should know that may not have been covered earlier in the discussion.
How Do You Close an Interview?
Sometimes it’s tricky to figure out how to end a job interview. Here are some ways to gracefully bring an interview to a close:
- Provide the candidate with an opportunity to ask you questions
- Tell the candidate what they can expect next. For example, let them know when you will be in contact regarding the position and if they need to take any further actions, such as filling out forms, completing certification tests, etc. This will leave a positive impression and tell the candidate how long to wait for your decision
- Be formal but sincere. Thank the candidate for taking the time to interview and reinforce a commitment to follow up with them. Stand up, shake hands, and see them out. If the interview is over video chat, ensure the candidate knows you are signing off. A simple “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I will be contacting you one week from today. We’ll talk soon. Goodbye,” will do the trick. Just make sure the ending is definitive before ending the call.
After you have closed the interview, take notes to summarize your impression of the candidate, especially if you are interviewing several different people. If something didn’t feel right, make a note of it. If you really liked them, make a note of that. Write summary notes while the contact is fresh in your mind to help you decide later on.
Learning how to conduct a great interview will help you weed out and find the employees you want as part of your online business. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions, and don’t hesitate to conduct a follow-up interview or phone call if you didn’t quite get all the information you wanted the first time. These interview questions should help you develop an interview process for growing your online business.