The Interview:

You spent some time creating a great job posting and you have several applicants who look promising on paper.  Time to interview!  Before meeting the applicants in person, prepare 3-6 questions and a task for interviewees to complete.  The questions should provide you with a broad impression of how the candidates approach challenges that might be encountered on the job.  The task should give the candidates a chance to demonstrate their skill.

Let’s say you are looking to hire a painter to fill a crew.  You may ask questions like:

  • Explain how you would go about painting a…(pick something common but challenging).  Would you do any prep work?  What details need to be considered?
  • Tell me about a time when you had many different tasks at the same time.  How did you manage these?
  • Give me an example of a complex project/task you had.  How did you approach it?  What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to work cooperatively with others on a team to complete a job.
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with an upset customer.  What was the problem?  What did you do?  What was the outcome?

* Notice that none of these questions could be answered with Yes or No.

Then, to get an idea of the candidate’s current ability level, you will ask him or her to paint something – a shutter, a window frame, a cabinet door.

Other interview considerations:

  • You may want the candidate to meet with several members of your company during the interview process, including a manager (the person that the new hire would report to).
  • If you interview multiple people, ask them the same questions, have them perform the same task, and take notes during the interview.  This will make it easier to compare the candidates.
  • Avoid questions that don’t relate directly to the position.  You cannot ask about race, religion, age, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or marital status.
  • Give the interviewee an opportunity to ask you questions before concluding the interview – remember that he or she is interviewing your company as much as you are interviewing him or her!
  • You do not have to discuss salary unless you offer the candidate a job, but if you don’t bring it up, be prepared for the candidate to ask.  Consider offering a starting salary of about $2/hr less than what you ultimately intend to pay.  You might say, “The starting salary is $10.  After 1 month you would be eligible for a $2 raise based on your performance.”

If you are prepared, you will get the information you need from qualified job applicants in order to hire the right person for your company.  It’s going to be a great year!