Most entrepreneurs suffer battle with stress if their employees are nice but ineffective at their work. Sooner or later, they have to fire such employees. Which is usually their least favourite thing to do. So much time and money would have been wasted in the process.

So, what do employers do? This involves not hiring such candidates in the first place. By not wasting time and resources upskilling an employee for a job that he or she will never excel at. Which brings us to that moment in time when you first met this employee. What was your first impression of him or her? Was your scrutiny of the individual during the interview relevant and accurate? Did his behaviour shed any light on their ability to succeed or fail then? Did you do your due diligence in the process?

Yes, this is where asking the right interview questions will really help entrepreneurs make the right choice. Every time. If you’re an entrepreneur who has dealt with a similar situation, you’d know how vital it would be to change your approach in this respect.

That said, you do not have to follow the interviewing strategy as discussed in this post down to the last detail. Adhering to these broad guidelines should serve you well enough when choosing which interview questions to ask. As a result, you can reduce the stress and financial loss that you might have incurred in the past.

4 Crucial Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Conducting an Interview

Yet before we begin discussing this change in the process of interviewing a prospective employee differently, there are common mistakes that entrepreneurs generally make. As mentioned earlier, this can cost the business dearly, in terms of salaries paid out and time invested to train said candidate for a certain role.

#1: Making decisions based on personal bias or preferences

Don’t let a candidate who dresses well for the job distract you from asking the right interview questions. Don’t even let any common interests that you both have cloud sound judgment. In other words, don’t let your personal preferences or bias cause you to hire the wrong candidate. It’s important to remember that the candidate’s likeability has nothing to do with whether he will excel at the responsibility offered to him.

#2: Not asking the difficult questions

Some interviewers make the mistake of not asking the difficult questions. Especially if the candidate in question is just a fresh college graduate. Or is making a career transition. If you interview experienced candidates by asking tough questions, do no differently with candidates who don’t have any relevant qualifications or experience. Not doing this can affect your bottom line more than you think. Remember: all employees have the same obstacles, whether new or not.

#3: Asking too many personal questions

While how someone spends their personal time can tell you about their character, this isn’t always the best approach when asking a candidate about their hobbies. Just a couple of personal interview questions should suffice. That said, avoid overanalysing this aspect of their lives as it might not provide you with relevant information about their experience or their level of expertise for the role in question.

#4: Talking too much about your business

It can be tempting to take too much time in order to talk about your business. Avoid speaking for too long except for introducing the company briefly. In fact, your focus should be on asking the right questions in order to get the candidate to open about themselves. If you can do this, make sure the candidate responds for 75 percent of the total interview time.

Asking the Right Questions in an Interview – A Primer

So, is there a distinct strategy when it comes to asking the right interview questions? So as to hire the right candidate for the job?

Yes, there is. For starters, entrepreneurs must understand that prospective employees attend important interviews with a degree of tension. What you must also be prepared for is that candidates will prepare canned responses to commonly asked interview questions too. With that said, let’s jump into the ideal interview process that will help you hire the right candidate.

Stage 1: Get the Candidate to Relax

Since the objective is to get to know the candidate well, it’s vital that you first put them at ease. Greet them warmly and ask them if they’d like some water. In fact, you should demonstrate excitement when it comes to interviewing them. If anything, tell them in no uncertain terms that the objective of the interview involves getting to know them well. The only way this is possible is by getting them to relax first. Instead of interviewing the individual who is a bit self-conscious, defensive and even stressed out. If you interview someone who resembles the latter, you won’t be able to understand the individual well. Your chances of making a bad hiring choice is likely if this is so.

Stage 2: Ask Questions That They Aren’t Prepared For

It’s silly to assume that candidates do not prepare for an interview when it comes to the right thing to say or wear. Most will use Google in order to give you an answer that they think you’re expecting. In other words, in anticipating the most commonly asked questions, they’ll be armed with a response that does not necessarily reveal who they truly are. So, during this stage, it’s good to ask gentle questions that sheds light on who they are. But in an indirect manner. Asking them where they went on vacation or what they do in their free time can tell you more about the candidate. Than the usual question about why they quit their last job. In other words, ask them questions that they don’t have canned responses for. Just remember to ask these unexpected questions gently so that they do not get stressed so early in the interview.

Stage 3: Ask Interview Questions that Reveal the Candidate’s Real Personality

Now, once you got them to relax and have formed a first impression of them, it’s time to get serious. Even then, be careful not to ask questions that they have prepared answers for. Most of all, do not ask questions that poses hypothetical situations but urges them to discuss real events, names and facts. For example, ask them how they handled a difference of opinion about their role with a manager or co-worker. Instead of asking them how they would handle such a situation if it did arise at your organization. Ask for concrete examples, name, issues and dates. Always. In doing so, you’ll always determine the truth as to who they really are since they will not be able to make up stories on the go.

Stage 4: Test Their Resiliency When Under Pressure

Since not all candidates you interview will pass stage three, you can either pressure them to reveal themselves. Or wish them the best in their future endeavours. Of course, if they are indeed a match for your organization, then you might want to test their resiliency when putting them under pressure. The response that you get will ensure that you only hire a candidate who is willing to prove himself or herself.

One way to do this is to tell them that while you have enjoyed this interview, the candidate isn’t coming across as a driven, competitive individual. A quality that is important for your organization.  The response you get, as aggressive as this statement might be, will tell you whether this candidate is the perfect fit for your organization. Most importantly, it can prevent from firing an ineffective employee in the future. Truth be told, the real individual reveals himself when faced with rejection or opposition.

Of course, a little discomfort shouldn’t deter the candidate if they are really motivated to work for your organization, correct? Candidates who give up easily or lose their cool are people you can safely reject. However, the candidate who tries to convince you coolly that you are wrong and backs it up with facts and figures should be the employee that you are looking for. Even then, don’t have to make it easy for them. Make sure you get the right response from the candidate under pressure while double-checking whether they make sense or not. That said, you can use this strategy for just about any position vacant at your place of business. No matter what you do, do not omit this step. Even if it seems a bit pushy and uncomfortable.

In Closing

All entrepreneurs have spent time, money and energy on employees who have been a poor return-on-investment. Is it worth going through this hassle? Especially if keeping your business afloat is a difficult task? In times when competitors are using every trick in the book to get more business?

No, not at all. Finding the right candidate for roles at your business is more important than ever. The sifting process should begin during the interview process. Speaking of which, while you can improvise with the first three stages, make sure you put the candidate under pressure. As described in the fourth stage.

Who knows? It might be that exchange that saves your business from nice but ineffective employees. Or worse still, from a potential lawsuit by an angry, disgruntled employee.