Knowing the right questions is essential for a good job interview.
Knowing the best questions to ask—and how to ask them—will help you find the best candidates to fill open positions at your business. — fizkes/Getty Images

Your team is the backbone of your small business, and every new hire should strengthen it. The pre-employment process weeds out applicants that don't reflect your corporate goals and values. By mixing common interview questions with targeted ones, you can assess a candidate's background, capabilities, and suitability.

Consider how various inquiries fit into your overall style and approach, then select a few to use in your next consultation. Here are seven questions interviewers typically ask when meeting with a potential employee.

"Tell me about yourself and your previous work history."

Begin your interview with an open-ended question that gives your candidate a chance to introduce themselves personally and professionally. According to ZDNET, employers use this inquiry "as a way to transition from small talk into their technical and behavioral interview questions." Applicants should talk about their current position and past experience. Look for candidates that tailor their responses to the job position and your company's values.

"What do you know about our business, and why do you want to work here?"

This common interview question can make or break the interview. It only takes a few minutes to check out a company's website and social media channels. Applicants who performed basic research show attention to detail and interest in the opportunity. Indeed said, "A well-prepared candidate is likely ambitious and committed to developing their career." In addition, it can help you gauge enthusiasm for the position and your brand.

If your applicant has purchased products or services from your business before, use this moment to ask follow-up questions about their experience. Do they have insights into potential improvements or remember something specific about their interaction with your staff?

[Read more: 4 Franchise Owners Share the Best Interview Questions To Ask When Hiring]

"Describe a time when a natural strength was a weakness."

Asking applicants about their strengths and weaknesses is a time-old tradition. As such, many hiring managers ask some iteration of this question as a way to measure soft skills. And well-prepared candidates know not to mention weaknesses that directly impact the desired job role. By altering this common interview question slightly, you can get a more honest answer.

In Inc., Emma Brudner, HR director at ProcessUnity, wrote, "Strengths and weaknesses are simply labels affixed to behaviors — and the reality is that no behavior is innately good or bad, only effective or ineffective within a certain context." Consider different versions of this question, such as, "Talk about a time when a weakness was a strength."

Potential employees should demonstrate a desire to grow and learn, regardless of whether you're interviewing entry-tier candidates or seasoned professionals. Notably, 65% of respondents to a Gallup survey "believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job."

"Tell me about a workplace challenge and how you overcame it."

No one person, company, co-worker, or job role is perfect. And all employees face challenges. Behavioral interview questions like this help employers gauge resilience, communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. Personalize this question to the candidate's job experience and the role they're applying for.

Here are some examples for different positions:

  • Customer-facing jobs: Tell me about a difficult customer situation, including how you responded and what insights came from it.
  • Team-based projects: Describe your response to an experience where there was discord between team members while working on a collaborative project.
  • Remote work: Talk about a recent challenge while working remotely and the steps you took to resolve it.

"What would you consider your biggest professional achievement?"

Allow your candidate to toot their own horn and speak about an accomplishment they're proud of. This question "highlights [the candidate's] determination to do better and leave a lasting impact on the company," according to Career Sherpa. If your applicant offers metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs), ask them to expand on that and disclose the factors behind their success.

[Read more: Tips for Conducting a Great Job Interview]

"How do you want to develop your talents further, and how do you plan to do so?"

Potential employees should demonstrate a desire to grow and learn, regardless of whether you're interviewing entry-tier candidates or seasoned professionals. Notably, 65% of respondents to a Gallup survey "believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job." Use this moment to mention the employee development benefits your company offers.

"Are there any questions you'd like to ask?"

On Robert Half's Talent Solutions blog, Half suggested, "The most serious candidates will likely have a few relevant questions prepared to ask a hiring manager." However, he cautions that, in some cases, like in long, detailed interviews, the applicant "may have already asked their questions."

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.

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