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When you are looking at hiring new employees, there are a number of different questions you need to ask and figure out. If you don’t hire the right person, you could end up facing a ton of unexpected expenses, and even more frustration in your business.

It’s like the time I hired a salesperson who swore up and down she could only make about 20% of the contacts that she needed to make in a given week.  Obviously, she was never going to meet any kinds of sales quotas, nor would she even be able to cover the cost of her own salary. Yikes.

These Are The Top Questions You Should Ask When Hiring:

  1. Ask about the person’s job experience, and make sure that it is relevant to what you are hiring for.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect match, but in general, you do want someone who has some experience with what you’re looking for, and who can acquire the skills.
  2. Check references for the person’s previous jobs. Usually, these will check out, but every once in a while you will come across someone who didn’t ask before listing people as references, and other issues.  Treat those as the red flags that they are.
  3. Do a background check. One time we thought we had the perfect caregiver, who had glowing references in the field.  When we ran her background check, it came back with a history of elder abuse. Ouch.
  4. Tell me about a time when…This will give you an idea of the candidate’s ability to problem-solve.  I’m not a big believer in asking someone a hugely complex problem, then asking them to write out the answer on a whiteboard.  But I do believe in asking good questions that they can then share their experience, and give you a good feel for their personality, and fit within the team.
  5. Check their social media. I once had a person who applied for an internship, and we Googled her name.  It came up with her Facebook profile, and pictures of her drunk at parties.  She was still underage.  Needless to say, we did a hard pass on that applicant, because if you’re going to be unwise enough to post pictures of yourself drinking underage, you’re probably also doing other things, which is equally unwise.
  6. Ask questions to get a feel for the person’s flexibility. Almost every job out there is going to require new skills and creativity. Some jobs are going to be super narrow in scope, but others most certainly aren’t.  I find that employees and team members who are willing to learn new skills and stretch their skill sets are going to do the best.
  7. Ask about a person’s availability. If you have specific timelines, dates, and times when people need to be available, make sure that you ask them for their availability. It sucks to find the perfect candidate, and realize that they’re only available for 3 hours a week on Tuesday night.
  8. Ask about education. With the number of people out there who claim to have these top-shelf educations who haven’t actually attended those schools, it’s important to ask about education and certifications.
  9. Read the resume carefully, and ask pertinent questions.  Reading the CMO resume carefully and asking questions about it will help you get to know the person better.  It will show that they know what they’re talking about, who they’re talking to, and even what their career goals are. Making sure that your position matches what the applicant’s resume says that they are looking for, and then verifying that information during the interview will guarantee a better match in the long run.
  10. If someone says that they speak a language, ask them questions in that language. One of my most wonderful and awful interview techniques if someone says that they speak a language I happen to be fluent in is to interview them in that language.  Sometimes I will start the interview in that language as a test.  I figure if they lie about being “fluent in Spanish”, then the rest of the resume is suspect as well.

The Questions to Avoid

In the United States, we have very strict laws around things that you cannot ask.  You should be very careful to not ask any questions that pertain to someone’s age, marital status, gender identity, family planning, or any other federally restricted questions.  Even hinting at those questions can get you into a heaping boatload of trouble, and can get you sued.  So, here are some (but not all) questions to not ask:

  1. Do you have any children?
  2. Do you plan to have any children?
  3. Are you married?
  4. Tell me about your family.
  5. What is your religion?
  6. Where are you from?

The only exception:

The only question you can legally ask is if someone is legally authorized to work in the United States.  If you require a US Citizen, for security clearance reasons, you need to state that at the outset, and you can then only ask if they are a US citizen. But if your job does not specifically require a US Citizen, then you cannot ask anything further.