man and woman in an interview
Knowing the right questions to ask during an interview will give the business owner a true idea of how the candidate will operate in the position. — Getty Images/fizkes

Hiring a new employee can feel like a daunting task. Essentially, you’re asking a stranger to share the responsibility of bringing your passion to the people. Will this person be motivated to help your business grow? Will they share your vision for what you’re working to create?

There are some common interview questions that candidates have faced — many of which have become cliche. “What’s your greatest weakness?” is one that candidates hate being asked, and often leads to a disingenuous response. As a small business owner, it’s better to be direct and focus on how this candidate may fit into your existing team. No matter what type of small business you run, here are the five interview questions to ask a potential employee.

[Read more: Why Should We Hire You?': Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates]

What motivates you at work?

A Gallup survey showed that nearly 40% of small business owners work more than 60 hours a week — a far cry from the typical 40-hour work week. Your team needs to be motivated to perform the myriad, versatile tasks that come with running a small business. Asking about a person’s motivation can offer a window into how they approach their work, what value they can add to your existing team, and how their personality fits with your existing company culture. Look for someone who can give you a straightforward answer as to what gets them out of bed every morning.

[Read more: Hiring in a Competitive Market: 5 Ways to Recruit Top Talent]

Tell me about a time when you were asked to perform a task outside your comfort zone.

Small business owners wear many hats: some days you’re the CEO, other days you’re the barback. Make sure your new hire is equally comfortable dealing with ambiguity or learning on the fly. You need a person who can approach challenges with optimism, and isn’t afraid to seek help when they need it. Look for someone who answers by indicating they are comfortable placing the job before their ego.

The success of your small business depends on maintaining customer loyalty.

What’s your experience working with customers?

One of the areas where small businesses outperform big competitors like Amazon is in building personal customer relationships. As Entrepreneur Magazine describes, customers appreciate you most when you remember their name, provide a high level of customer service and give back to your community.

The success of your small business depends on maintaining customer loyalty. As a result, you need to find an employee who recognizes the importance of putting the customer first. Regardless of the job position, ask this question to make sure your candidate has experience working for the end consumer.

Why are you interested in this position?

There’s no right answer to this question, but the candidate’s response can reveal more about what motivates them. Of course, an hourly barista is going to answer differently from a full-time marketing manager. Hopefully, the candidate will provide some details that tell you more about what is important to them. With this information, you can assess if the candidate’s goals align with your open role, the work environment and how the candidate can grow with your company.

How would you describe this business to a potential customer?

Asking this question gives you an initial sense of how this potential employee will represent your business. How much research have they done to understand your unique story? How will they connect with your customer? Do they understand what you’re trying to achieve? A candidate who is just going through a first-round interview probably won’t know all the intricacies of your business, but they should show what kind of impression they would make in talking about your venture. With a little training, you can give them the talking points they need to be one of your best ambassadors.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published August 09, 2019