5 Killer Questions to Ask to hire the best employee

  • Management Services


  • Hiring expert Mel Kleiman sat in on a job interview recently that demonstrated why it is easy for candidates to defraud the process, because a manager brought in an applicant,  therefore explaining exactly what the job required saying to the applicant, “So tell me a little bit about yourself.”

Most importantly, the person was not an idiot. She had listened carefully, and immediately recited qualities and attitudes that perfectly mirrored the manager’s needs. She described herself as dependable, reliable, and conscientious, therefore a wondrous match for the job she’d just spent two minutes hearing about. Besides that, who would have thought such a diamond would be discovered so quickly?


The manager had accidentally given up control of the interview, as many do.  Your goal is to hire the best employee, but too often you end up hiring the “best applicant.” To change that, you must develop a system that doesn’t focus on the packaging, but most importantly on the product inside. Here are five questions that Mel Kleiman suggests will help you dig deeper:


“Tell me about the achievement you’re most proud of.” It is not the achievement itself that matters, it is how they did it. Get an applicant to relate the steps and the hurdles it took to accomplish that magic. Immerse them in that golden memory and they will begin to expound without a script.


“On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank yourself as a …” Many managers will unwisely obsess over the number they hear besides that number is the least important part. What you’re looking for is a sophisticated level of self-analysis and self-awareness, therefore you want to know what has made someone a 6 or a 10. A good follow-up question is, “What do you think it would take to get your number higher in that area?”


“Did your last company do performance appraisals?” Ask how the applicant felt about the process and the results because in  today’s world, because it is hard to get references, and this is your chance to learn what a former boss wrote down on paper. If you feel confident in scheduling a second interview, ask that a copy of a recent evaluation show up.


“If you could ask me just one question about the job or the organization, what would it be?” This one’s a bit of a trick because Kleiman says it does not matter what the answer is; your follow-up should always be the same: “Wow, what an interesting question. What made you ask that one above all?” The goal here is to reveal what the person’s #1 true motivator at work is. If you listen close, it is likely to be in their response.


“How did you prepare yourself for this interview?” Many interviewers like to ask “What do you know about our company?” But the “how did you prepare” question shows you how much they want the job because it is what they are willing to do to get it.