Don't Hire Another Employee Without Asking These Questions

By Lacey Conner, SHRM-CP on Mar 17, 2020
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The interview is perhaps the single most important business process to master; it's the most powerful step in the process of determining who enters your organization, influencing your company culture, quality, safety, and even client relationships. Asking the right questions is critical for leveraging the interview to make the most informed decision.

The Cost of a Bad Hire

Studies that have set out to measure the cost of a bad hire have produced conflicting reports ranging from 50% of the employee's annual salary to $240,000. These costs include the following factors, which aren't all applicable in every situation but must be considered: 

  • dollars spent on recruiting 
  • investment in onboarding and training
  • decline in morale
  • turnover of other team members as a result of the bad hire
  • loss of customer loyalty
  • safety and quality issues

Beyond Illegal Interview Questions the need to know of unconscious bias

Common Interview Challenges

Perhaps the most common interview challenge is the "like-me" bias, in which the interviewer immediately connects with a candidate who reminds them of themselves, leading to an overly-casual interview and an impulsive hire decision. Staffing shortages often contribute to rushed decisions, too, as leaders may hire the first applicant or the applicant who is able to start soonest rather than the best candidate for the job. 

5 Interview Questions That Should Never Go Unasked

  1. What led you to apply for this position? Better understanding a candidate's motives can help you measure their fit in the organizational culture and alignment with the company's core values. An employee who feels drawn to the mission and vision of the organization or who is seeking more challenge in their work, for example, may score higher than a candidate who thought the job would be easy or who doesn't like a current leader.
  2. Tell me about a time a project didn't go as planned. A candidate's answer to this question can help you gauge one of the most critical traits: personal accountability. A candidate who discusses how they contributed to the problem and credits a team for getting it back on track will be a better hire than one who places blame on others and takes credit for redirecting.
    Common Interview Questions That Are Actually Illegal
  3. Describe a time you had to work with somebody who was difficult. All of your employees will face adversity and each will be required to work with imperfect coworkers and clients. Look for a candidate who takes ownership for the relationship, seeking to better understand other perspectives and address differences respectfully and directly.
  4. Share with us a time you faced an ethical dilemma at work. Look for candidates who consider all of the viewpoints presented in the dilemma without labeling or making judgments about intentions, dividing the team into right and wrong or good and evil. Additionally, seek out candidates who sought to work through the dilemma collaboratively.
  5. What questions can we answer for you? A candidate's questions are often the best reflection of their motives. A candidate who says they were drawn to the mission and vision of the organization should ask questions about company culture, retention, or philanthropy; if they bring only inquiries about pay and benefits or hours that might indicate well-rehearsed but disingenuous responses to previous questions.

Partnering with professional employer organization (PEO) can ensure you have legal, effective interview tools that lead to the best hire (almost) every single time.

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