Attracting job candidates for your hourly employee positions is difficult enough. Getting the best ones that are most likely to stay on board and engaged in the work, is even trickier. A study conducted just a few years ago by the Society for Human Resources Management, (SHRM), found that the annual turnover rate for hourly employees is close to 19%, with an average cost-per-hire to fill a vacancy at $4,129. Other studies estimate the cost of replacing an entry-level position to be up to 40 percent of an employee's salary. That is why it is so important to start off on the right foot with one of the most intimidating and confusing steps in the hiring process—the interview. Knowing what questions to ask and when to ask them is so important before committing company resources to orientating and onboarding a new employee.
First, Know What NOT to Ask
When interviewing job candidates for your open hourly positions, be sure to stick as close as possible to asking questions that will give you insight into the kind of person you are hiring. For example, if the position is in a customer service role, you want to ask questions that will shed light on the candidate's friendliness and openness to dealing with people. A question like, "Tell me about a situation in which your spoken communication skills made a difference in the outcome. How did you feel? What did you learn?" is better than, "Can you work with customers?" You should see the candidate interview as if you are playing detective and trying to paint a picture of the candidate's profile. Of course, don't grill the candidate, but help them tell you who they are by using great questions.
Use common sense and don't cross the line when asking questions. For example, you should not ask any of the following or even hint to any of these, or similar invasive questions:
- Where do you go to church?
- Are you pregnant?
- How old are you?
- When were you born?
- What is your ethnic heritage?
- What disabilities do you have?
- Do you have AIDS or are you HIV positive?
- What is that accent that you have?
- When did you graduate high school?
Any questions that will uncover age, race, medical history, genetics, or any other personal information should be avoided. Keep the questions real and related to the job description for which you are hiring. Also, really off-the-wall questions may be fun, but if they're not relevant, don't use them. They may work for some organizations though. For example, Facebook asks candidates in an interview, "25 racehorses, no stopwatch. 5 tracks. Figure out the top three fastest horses in the fewest number of races." Google asks, "Why are manhole covers round?" Microsoft uses this question: "How would you test an elevator?" And finally, Apple asks it's job applicants, "If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?"
The Best Interview Questions to Ask
There are a plethora of questions that an employer may be tempted to ask a job candidate, but in order to keep the interview relaxing and to the point, you should make your interview questions fit the company, the culture, and the job description. It's just that simple. Those three categories are the ones you want to ensure to cover because those form the basis of your organization. You also want to learn more about the candidate, so those questions should be included in an interview as well.
Use any of the following 37 questions, based on what it is you are trying to find out about the candidate in relation to the job available. Feel free to amend some to fit your style and company needs.
- What was it about the job description for this position that caught your eye?
- Tell me something you are passionate about?
- Why did you leave your previous employer?
- Tell me about when you were most satisfied in your career.
- Tell me about when you were least satisfied.
- Tell me about a time when you failed. Why did it happen? What did you do next and what would you do differently if given another chance?
- Please describe a time where you had a disagreement with someone or a problem and what steps you took to remedy the situation.
- What do you ultimately want to become?
- What does your ideal company look like?
- What attracted you to this company?
- What have you heard about this company?
- Tell me what you know about the company's history.
- What do you know about this industry?
- Why do you want to work at this company and what are your expectations?
- What motivates you to come into work every day?
- What are you looking for in terms of career development?
- How has school prepared you for working at our company?
- Pitch our company to me as if I were buying our product/service
- Tell me about the best boss you ever had. Why did you enjoy working for them so much?
- How do you feel about becoming friends with your coworkers? Is it a good idea or a bad idea? Describe your usual role on a team or on group projects.
- If you could open a business, what would it be and why?
- What personality traits do you butt heads with?
- If I were to poll everyone you've worked with, what percentage would not be a fan of yours? What are the positive aspects of your current job and work environment, or the last position you held before coming to this interview?
- Tell us about an occasion when you believe that you delighted a customer, either an internal or an external customer.
- When working with people, in general, describe your preferred relationship with them.
Job Description Questions
- What particular skills or experiences make you the best match for this position?
- Where does this position fall along your career path?
- What kinds of professional development would make you a more-effective worker?
- Tell me about a time you had multiple assignments with conflicting goals or deadlines, and how you completed each of them.
- If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?
- What is your understanding of the skills necessary to perform this job?
- What special training have you completed that qualifies you for this job?
- Can you describe how to _____________ (fill in with essential job functions, repeating as many times as necessary to get a good idea of necessary job skills)?
- This job requires the ability to _____________ (fill in as stated above). Can you give me an example of a time that you have had to _____________ (restate requirement)?
- What days/hours/shifts do you prefer not to work?
- At your last job (or school), what was the latest you ever arrived past your scheduled start time? Describe a time where you disagreed with a coworker or teammate on a project.
- What one skill makes you qualified for this position?
And, as outlined in a SHRM article, if you need more clarification, ask follow-up questions such as these:
- Could you please tell me more about . . . ?
- I'm not quite sure I understood. Could you tell me more about that?
- I'm not certain what you mean by . . . Could you give me some examples?
- Could you tell me more about your thinking on that?
- You mentioned . . . Could you tell me more about that? What stands out in your mind about that?
- This is what I thought I heard . . . Did I understand you correctly?
- What I hear you saying is . . .
- Can you give me an example of . . . ?
- What makes you feel that way?
- You just told me about . . . I'd also like to know about . . .
And never end an interview without asking the all important question, "Do you have any questions for me?"
Asking the Right Questions Affects the Bottom Line
You know the statistics: hourly employee turnover rates can run as high as 110 percent in some industries and the cost to replace an employee can cost up to $7,000, according to the US Labor Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Knowing how to ask the right questions in an interview will help you to hire, as well as keep, the best employees. Incorporate these questions into your hiring process and reduce your turnover rate while improving employee engagement and productivity.
Workstream (www.workstream.is) is an end to end hiring software built for the hourly workforce, cutting in half the time to hire and on-board workers, via SMS / text communication, automated workflows, online document signing, and more.