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Best interviewing questions

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When you are interviewing it’s typical to ask standard questions like "what value do you think you would bring to this business?" The problem with questions like that is they can be answered by the candidate without giving away any real insight into their value or personality. Here is a list of questions we ask candidates as a way to understand them better:

  1. "Describe to me how you would deal with a client that made an unreasonable request of you?" – Here we’re testing their knee-jerk reactions to conflict and their general management style.
  2. "If I was to visit your home right now, what would I see?" – There are two aspects to this question, how do you live and how would you react to me dropping in on you. We’ve noticed that organized people have no problem with this answer but people with messy homes shudder at the thought of it.
  3. "If you were the director of a digital marketing firm like ours, what would you do in the year ahead to ensure profitability?" – Everyone has a responsibility to manage their profitability. Answers like, "that’s not really something I’ve ever had to worry about" are a serious red flag.
  4. "I’d like to call three references right now so we can make a quicker decision. Can you provide me with the names and addresses of those three people now?" – This is a litmus test for BS. If they come back with, "ah, I’ll need to check in with some people first before I give you any numbers" you are wasting your time.
  5. This is not really an interview question but recently we were interviewing for a position from a list of about 7 candidates. I had been calling and screening people all day so by the time I got to the last person I was a little tired and cranky. I got the candidate on the phone and within a few minutes asked "can you get down here in an hour for a face-to-face interview?" It was a little unfair to expect anyone to be that available but it was a test to see how eager they were. She was there 45 minutes later. Today she works for us and is one of our rising stars. Promptness and action are huge indicators of future success.

And finally a great question from my friend Rajesh Setty, "What would be a question you wish I had asked? Why? and what would be your response?"

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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