Interviewing your first employee can be both as exciting as it is nerve-racking.

As the interviewer, maintaining a calm and collected demeanor is crucial. Often, your interviewee will be feeling nervous, and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than both parties being visibly anxious. I vividly recall my first experience hiring an employee – It was an awkward situation; I felt unsure about the right questions to ask and the qualities to look for.

Through learning from my initial mistakes, I’ve refined my hiring process. I no longer find myself in the position of having to hire as frequently, as the individuals I select tend to excel in their roles. This success demonstrates that the interview process is now effective and yields candidates who are well-suited for the job.

After all, the fundamental aim of an interview is to ensure a harmonious fit between the candidate and the position. It’s not just about whether the person suits the role; it’s also about whether the role suits the person. A content and fulfilled employee tends to be a productive one, and such individuals are more likely to stay with the company for the long haul. Employers should also know that more and more workers are gaining access to legal resources when coping with unfair job termination or dealing with workplace discrimination. You don’t want to be subjected to a lawsuit so be sure that you take measures to prevent any form of discrimination in the workplace.

Of course, you could stick with the conventional, run-of-the-mill interview questions that many use:

  1. How did you hear about this position?
  2. Why do you want to work at this company?
  3. Why should we hire you?
  4. What are your greatest strengths?
  5. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
  6. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work.
  7. Share a time when you demonstrated leadership skills.
  8. Describe a situation where you disagreed with a decision made at work.
  9. Discuss a time when you made a mistake.
  10. How do you think your coworkers would describe you?

However, consider that in today’s dynamic job market, asking unique and insightful questions can help you gain deeper insights into your candidates, ultimately leading to more successful hires.

Don’t be this type of interviewer, especially when Interviewing your first employee.

Honestly, these questions won’t help as much as you might think they will. When you interview multiple people with these questions you start hearing very similar answers, and the chances of someone really sticking out among the crowd decrease.

Instead of relying on generic questions, aim to engage your candidates in meaningful conversations. Approach your interviews as 1-on-1 dialogues with a new acquaintance, rather than formal interviews. Your primary goal should be to get to know them better, as the specifics of their past achievements, such as “top customer service at Company ABC,” might not provide a clear picture of their abilities without understanding Company ABC’s standards.

The primary objective should be to alleviate any nervousness and make your candidates feel at ease when conversing with you. When someone is nervous, they tend to keep their guard up. Just as in sales, it’s essential to break down the initial defensive barrier to truly understand the prospect. People generally enjoy discussing themselves, and if you can engage them in conversation about a hobby or interest they’re passionate about, you’ve established a connection.

This is why I don’t adhere to a rigid list of questions. Instead, I prefer to study my prospects. Do they have any tattoos, unique jewelry, or distinctive fashion items? By pointing out these details and showing an interest, you can encourage them to open up and create a more genuine and comfortable interview environment.

More importantly, it’s not what their answers are, but rather how they answered the question.

Once again, my top priority is to ensure they feel comfortable talking to me. I observe subtle cues such as brightened eyes, confident body language, and a held chin, as these indicators signal they’re at ease. Once they’re in their comfort zone, I delve deeper into the conversation, discussing the position, responsibilities, company structure, and more. While doing so, I keenly observe their body language. If they maintain their confidence and comfort, it’s a sign they can handle the role and its demands. However, if they start to withdraw and become guarded, it’s a signal that something has unsettled them. This nuanced change in behavior can reveal much about their potential fit within the company.

Additionally, if I anticipate being their immediate manager, it’s vital that the interviewee and I establish a good rapport above all else. The chemistry between us is crucial, as it allows me to guide them to become the ideal employee for the role. On the contrary, if I sense that our interactions will be marked by constant conflicts, I acknowledge that the long-term working relationship won’t be successful.

This leads to another critical point: when you won’t be their immediate manager, you should not take the lead in the interview process. Always ensure that the person who will oversee the prospective employee the most is the primary interviewer. This approach enhances the likelihood of a successful and harmonious integration into the company.

To sum up, When you’re Interviewing your first employee, just have a simple conversation.

Just have a simple conversation,  not an interview. Aim to leave an interview and make a new friend, if I feel like I haven’t done that I know the prospect probably won’t be the right choice. This is especially true for businesses with small teams; odds are you will be a very close-knit group and with time, may even feel like family. This is the type of employee culture that pulls customers in and enhances the customer experience.

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