Hiring Questions

Use a List of Interview Questions – For the Basics

Use a list of interview questions to recruit employees. Develop behavioral hiring questions to select the best employee from applicants interviewed. How to conduct interviews? Use job recruiting software to sort, track and match applicants' skills and experience with the position available; and prepare effective and targeted employment interview questions.

Search This Site

Custom Search

Before you conduct interviews of the applicants for the position, you may want to enter the data into job recruiting software. This is particularly useful when you have a large number of applicants' resumes to sort through. Job recruiting software will help you to match and track applicants experience and skills to your position.

Effectively recruiting employees requires that you:

  • develop and review job descriptions to make sure they are up to date and accurate (or create one if necessary);
  • ensure that the salaries for the position or positions (employee compensation) are considered before you develop the selection criteria (how much you pay should have an impact on what skills and experience you are looking for);
  • develop selection criteria (must-haves compared to nice-to-have; for example accuracy might be a must-have; computer literacy might be a must-have; while experience in your industry is a nice-to-have – because other experiences are easily transferable);create a job posting (internal) or advertisement (external);
  • advertise (both internally and externally);

Now you’re ready to begin the interview process. You would have put a deadline date for applications on your job posting. Once the deadline arrives, sort through the resumes and applications you have received (you can use job recruiting software to sort through your applications – particularly useful if you receive lots of resumes).

How to Conduct Interviews: Hiring Questions

  • Develop focused hiring questions: a list of interview questions, and make sure you include a number of behavioral interview questions (scenario type questions: 'what if you ...');
  • Rank the importance (and weight) of each of the employment interview questions – do this before the first interview and make sure that you leave enough time between interviews to score each of the applicants that you interviewed;
  • Review the applications and select a short list to interview;
  • Interview the candidates, using the selected hiring questions;

Note: Remember that many applicants are well prepared for the interview process. Develop hiring questions that are unique to your business and that will help you differentiate between the applicants. Some common hiring questions: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why should we hire you? Most applicants will be ready with answers to those questions - so make sure that you develop hiring questions that will help you make the best hiring decision.

Once you've completed the interview process, you need to make a decision. If you have too many 'good' applicants, you may have to short-list the applicants and bring the short listed ones back for a second interview. In the second interview try to include another interviewer (it's good to have another perspective). Also ensure that you use a larger number of situational or behavioral interview questions – these help you see how the applicant performs in those specific scenarios.

If appropriate to the position you're hiring for, you may want to have short-listed applicants provide a demonstration of their capabilities. For example, if you are hiring a sales person, ask them to provide you with their sales presentation for something they have sold in the past. Or, if you are hiring a plant floor operator, have them go out to the plant floor with you and show how they operate a piece of equipment. Yes, they may not perform as well as usual – due to stress – but you get a view of how they work under stress. Use these demonstrating techniques only if you need to compare and contrast 2 or 3 top applicants.

Select the Best Applicant:

  • test the top 2 or 3 candidates for behavior, attitude, aptitude, intelligence or whatever else you need tested – use these results as back-up to your face-to-face interview results;
  • rank the applicants according to your list of interview questions and test results;
  • check the references of your top candidates – if possible ask for a customer reference too (a customer can be an internal customer – another department member), not just a supervisor or management reference;
  • choose your best-fit candidate;
  • phone your chosen applicant and make them an offer (have all the job offer details ready). Negotiate if necessary.
  • Once they accept, prepare a written compensation offer for your chosen candidate and make sure that they sign an acceptance (the written offer should include job title, job description, salary and benefits – include vacation, probationary period, expectations, termination notice for with cause or without cause, etc.);
  • Let the other candidates know why they didn't get the job. It is important to first offer your chosen candidate the job. If they refuse the offer, or have found employment elsewhere, you may want to make an offer to the second choice candidate (I've done that before and it still worked out very well – the quality of the candidates was very high).


When hiring employees it is important that you become familiar with the labor laws in your jurisdiction. Some of the common labor laws revolve around discrimination (age, sex, racism, disability) and equal pay for equal work. In Canada and the United States for example, you cannot ask questions about the age of the applicant, whether or not they are married, have children, etc. These questions might imply or infer discriminatory hiring practices.


Hiring the right person is more than understanding how to develop employment interview questions and how to conduct interviews.

When you have to compete with other businesses – big business, for example - to hire talented employees, be careful not to become overwhelmed by the high direct costs associated with employees (particularly to hire good employees). Try to become more creative in your job offers and in the job itself.

For example, talk about the benefits of working in a small business – there is no better all-round education that an employee can get (in big business, employees are usually 'stuck' in the departments they are hired into, until they transfer out – but their learning in new functional areas is usually limited).

But once you've hired that applicant, make sure that you do provide the all-round cross-functional education or training - deliver whatever you promised in the offer stage. You might want to build a two year action plan with your employee and show her or him what and how they will learn the facets of the business.

But no matter how you handle recruiting employees, you must be involved in developing the hiring questions (including a list of interview questions and behavioral interview questions), developing a ranking scale – and ranking the applicants, the final interviews, meetings and discussions – in a small business, hiring the right person for the job is very important. You cannot afford to go through this lengthy and costly process over and over again.

More-For-Small-Business Newsletter:

For more timely and regular monthly information on managing your small business, please subscribe here.

Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you More Business Resources.

Read More:

Visit Firing Employees to read about handling employee terminations or lay-offs.

Visit Performance Evaluations and Sample Performance Evaluations to align hiring with evaluating.

Return from Hiring Questions to Role of Human Resources.

Or Return from Hiring Questions to More for Small Business.