Hiring people is hard. It’s extremely difficult to find someone to work for your company who not only has a specific skill set, but also has a personality that will mesh with the rest of the office. Also, if your business consists of only a few employees, bringing in someone new will vastly change the dynamic of the group. So where am I going with this? You need to ask the right questions when you interview a prospective employees. There are the standard interview questions like, “Why do you want to work here?” and “Why should we hire you?” but you need to go deeper. I’m not saying you have to learn their life story, but you need to ask questions that really gage their personalty and work style. Here are four really good questions to ask job applicants.

1. What is your ideal work environment?

I like this question because it gives you a lot of insight as to how someone works. Do they want to be in an office by themselves, or do they want to be surrounded by their fellow employees in an open office space? It will also give you an idea of whether or not this person will work in your office environment. We have limited space at the Roundpeg office so someone who wants a large office to themselves isn’t going to work out. Make sure your candidate is aware of what their work space will be like. That way they have a realistic idea of what to expect if they are hired.

2. You have five tasks to complete, and they must be done by Friday, what do you do?

Lorraine likes to ask this question and now I know why. Depending on how the person responds you will be able to tell if they can prioritize their workload. You will also learn about the candidate’s judgment and decision-making skills. Will they just dive right in? Will they multitask? Do they plan and schedule out the tasks by making list? It’s important to find an individual who has the right skills or experience for the job, but it’s also important to make sure they can be held accountable to meet deadlines and stick to schedules.

3. If you were in a fight with a bear, who would win?

If you’ve seen our Meet Your Team page you know we all have answered this question. We all had to answer it during the interview process and we still ask job applicants to answer the question. Why? Because it doesn’t matter what the answer is, it’s to see if we can get applicants to think on their toes. Some people prepare for job interviews so much they have memorized their responses to the point where they don’t sound genuine. A silly question will throw off those people, making them give real, honest answers. Sure it doesn’t pertain to the actual job, but it tells you something about their personality, and that’s important too.

4. What are your biggest pet peeves at work?

This question is a little deceiving, but you need to ask it. It’s amazing how quickly some people will start rattling off all of the things that get under their skin. If a candidate cannot work with cats, they’re clearly not a fit for Roundpeg. Asking this question also gives you an idea of problems this person might have had at their last job. If they start to divulge negative feelings about their current or past employers, you’ll want to make a note of it. Sure, we have all had jobs where we might not have been the happiest, but we don’t bring it up during an interview. Never hire someone who badmouths their old or current employer. It is only foreshadowing how they will talk about your business if they decide to quit or are let go.

Asking the right questions during the interview process is crucial. You want to make sure candidates understand all of the responsibilities the position includes, but you also need to make sure their personality will compliment the rest of your team. Lastly, don’t hire anyone who doesn’t have questions to ask you during the interview. That’s a big mistake and shows they haven’t done their research about the position and aren’t really interested in learning about the company. Ask these four questions the next time you are hiring and see how the responses shape your decision.

For you business owners out there looking to beef up your staff by hiring before the new year, be sure to check out this great post on the hidden costs of end-of-the-year hiring.