Small business recruitment guide: The best interview questions to ask
Hiring the right employees for your small business is crucial. But how do you identify people who share your vision, have the right skills and can help take the business forward? Here are the questions you need to ask to find out if the person you’re interviewing is right for your small business.
Look beyond the resume
Your recruitment process will often start by sourcing and attracting suitable candidates to apply for the position. But it’s impossible to know what a person’s really like when reading a resume that – after all – is created with the sole purpose of self-promotion.
And when it comes to small businesses, finding the right cultural fit is equally, if not more important, than finding that candidate with the right skillset.
“That’s because a lot of the time you can train people in technical skillset, but you can’t fundamentally change what their impact is on culture,” says Ellie Langford, HR business partner and HR team lead at PerformHR, an outsourced HR provider.
“So while you can enforce behavioural expectations, if they don’t fundamentally align with your company culture, the impact it has on a team can be incredibly detrimental and toxic.”
An approach Langford recommends using during the recruitment process is the ‘can do, will do, will fit’ model – a strategy aimed at broadening people’s thoughts on what they’re looking for in a person.
“The ‘can do’ component outlines the basic fundamental requirements for the role, including skills and qualifications, which creates the foundation,” explains Langford.
“Next you begin to explore the person beyond the resume in the ‘will do’ and ‘will fit’ components, which dives deep into discovering the person’s motivation behind applying for the position.”
Some key questions to help determine this could include:
- What motivated you to apply for this position?
- Why do you want to work for this business?
- What inspired you to want to work in this industry?
The responses will reveal the candidate’s personal goals and values, enabling you to see if they align with the mission, vision and values of your business.
The right cultural fit
The ‘will fit’ component focuses on culture – that means narrowing it down to not only the person who has the key skills and experiences needed for the role, but someone who is the right type of person for the role.
Whether that means someone who is a team player and a self-starter, someone who has an eye for quality and high attention to detail, or someone who is customer-focused with excellent interpersonal skills, depends entirely on your business and the position. Having a think about those core personal competencies prior to interviews will help you determine if they’ll be able to perform the job well, as opposed to just whether or not they’ve done the job before.
“Asking behavioural and scenario-based questions, rather than leading questions, is a great way to achieve this,” says Langford.
“You could ask people to demonstrate a time in their career where they have been a team player, or describe a project where they put their quality skillset to good use, or when they actively used their negotiation skills to rectify a problem. Whatever the scenario, keeping the STAR or ‘situation, task, action, results’ methodology front of mind is always a good guide.”
Whatever the outcome, remember you’re never going to be 100% confident that you’ve recruited the right person every single time. And that’s okay. But having a clearly defined vision for the future of your business, teamed with the right style of questions, will see you approach this exciting period of growth in your small business with confidence.
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