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The UPS Store Small Business blog
  • 22 February 2021
  • Jelani Markus

6 Questions Every Small Business Owner Should Ask During an Interview

Being a small business owner means wearing a vast number of hats. You’re an accountant. You’re a coach. You’re an employee (for yourself). But most of all, you’re a boss. And as a boss, you want to hire the best employees. A way to help ensure you’re hiring the right people is to ask applicants the right interview questions to gain substantial insight about them. The following six questions can help you better understand potential employees before you make the decision to have them join your team.

person interviewing candidates

“What inspires you to come to work?”

This question is a great way to assess whether a candidate is a good fit for the type of work situation they’ll experience in the position they’re interviewing for. Follow this interview question with a request for more detail. Ask them to describe their ideal business workplace setting, leadership structure, idea of training, etc. With these questions answered, you will have a clearer picture of what the applicant is looking for compared to what you have to offer.

“How do you navigate your professional development?”

If you want to highlight candidates who are constantly looking for ways to evolve and improve, this interview question is a good one. It implicitly assumes they already look for ways to develop professionally while asking them to describe how they do so. Simply asking if professional development is important can lead to a “yes” or “no” response that doesn’t provide the level of insight you may be looking for.

“Tell me a story.”

This isn’t as much an interview question as it is an example of a type of question. In order to pinpoint certain behaviors in your applicants, ask them to share a story that can help you determine how they will respond to different stimuli in the future. A few examples you can experiment with are:

  • How would you handle this following situation?
  • When have you worked with a team that disagreed often? How did you attempt to resolve it?
  • Tell me about the last time you had to complete a task you didn’t want to. How did you overcome your feelings?

“When have you made an urgent decision without manager guidance?”

A small business owner doesn’t want to feel like they have to be everywhere at once. The purpose behind finding the right employees for your business is finding those who can help lighten your load. This question helps you learn more about your applicant’s ability to work independently under pressure. If you can’t count on them when things get difficult, they may not be the right fit.

“What would keep you from going to a bigger company?”

Loyalty is a crucial element when hiring an employee. While you can’t guarantee workers will stay with you in perpetuity, you can gauge which factors under your control may keep them working with you. Many employees enjoy the feeling of family and work-life balance that many small businesses can deliver. While it’s easy to assume everyone will follow the money, it is not always the case. This interview question will help you discover what’s most important to your candidate.

“What are your favorite hobbies?”

To learn about who your applicant is as a person, you should ask about what they do outside of a work setting. This is an interview question that helps you determine aspects of their personality that can impact the way they work for you in positive or negative ways. Another big benefit to this question is the ability to relax your candidate. You want to create an environment where your potential employee is being their most honest, and this question can help lower their guard and show their true selves.

Bonus: “Is there anything else you’d like to discuss with me?”

This question gives applicants an opportunity to speak about skills or accomplishments that didn’t come up organically during your interview. This is also a great way to measure engagement. An applicant who is excited about the potential to work for you is likely going to want to share more reasons why they would be the perfect fit.

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