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Small and medium-sized businesses often only require a very small team, hence the name. So with a concentrated workforce undiluted by reams of managers, juniors, seniors, heads of this and heads of that, finding the perfect candidate is absolutely paramount. The right person must become an asset to your enterprise in order to help you realise your dreams and we’re here to help you find them.

We’ve all been there. You’re a jibbering bag of nerves with clammy palms and a collar that seems dead set on suffocating you. The interviewer suddenly develops the fear factor of a two-headed lion at feeding time and you forget everything you had rehearsed for days on end.  You spend the next five minutes dreaded the curveball questions that might be coming your way but the thing is, job interviews need to be a mutually beneficial process where both parties are given the chance to delve deeper into what’s on offer.

Scaring the living daylights out of your candidate isn’t a good test of endurance and certainly won’t allow you to see their true colours. We’ve put together a handful of great interview questions that will help you get the best out of your interviewee:

Before I start, tell me what you already know about the business…

Opening the conversation with a non-intrusive question helps to break the ice and put the interviewee at ease. Asking them to tell you what they already know about your business before you deliver your spiel will make them feel like they’re doing you favour when you don’t have to recount facts they already know. Meanwhile, you’re assessing their dedication to the job role and sniffing out those who didn’t take the time to thoroughly research beforehand.

Can you tell me about a time when you called upon your initiative?

When it comes to small businesses, it’s likely that you have opened the job vacancy after identifying a gap in your own skillset. This means that the candidate will not be offered much in the way of training from you and will need to have enough nouse to learn on the job and be proactive towards self-learning and development.  Team work is crucial for successful SMEs so you’re going to need somebody who you can trust will work independently using excellent initiative.

What do you see as your main attributes and areas for improvement?

This one is a clever way of asking the age old question: what are your strengths and weaknesses? A subtle rewording enables you to ascertain the same information but encourages more honest and organic answers. The interviewee has likely rehearsed an answer to the strengths and weaknesses quiz in front of anybody who will listen, even next door’s dog. Rephrasing the question will mean they have to think about their reply without causing too much confusion, rather than reciting a ‘here’s one I made earlier’ answer.

Can you sell me this object?

Have a bog-standard object (like a pen or a notebook) at the ready and at the right moment, present it to the interviewee and ask them to sell it to you. You’re looking for somebody who can identify the lucrative features of the object and capitalise on these to put forward an engaging sales pitch. This is great for an array of jobs, not just sales vacancies, as a true belief in your product and brand is something your perfect candidate needs to be able to possess.

So, how do you wind down after a busy day?

Working as part of an intimate workforce means you’re going to be spending a great deal of time together so relating to the candidate on a personal level is important too. Establishing what they enjoy doing in their spare time, outside of the professional realm, will enable you to gain a broader insight into them as a person. Identifying where they invest their personal time and passions will help you decide if they are a good fit for you and your business. You aren’t going to want somebody passionate about vegetarianism helping you market your urban burger bar, for example.

Last but not least, give your interviewee the chance to turn the tables and ask you some questions too. Placing the ball back in their court will boost their confidence and lubricate the flow of conversation. While the candidate feels like they are in control of the dialogue, you can use this as the perfect chance to further gauge their interest in the business and fit for the job.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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