"Twenty-year-olds fall in and out of love more often than they change their oil filters. Which they should do more often." - House
Question #90420 posted on 10/02/2017 9:38 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I've been out of school and working for about 3 years. My company is hiring a new employee to be on my team (which consists currently of me and one other person in office, plus a couple remote people) and while my supervisor is doing the first round of interviews, she's offered to let me and my teammate do the second round to make sure whoever we hire is someone we'd want to work with.

It's a great opportunity to help build my team and to experience the other side of the interview process! But the problem is I have no idea what kind of questions to ask or how to be a good interviewer... Anyone have advice on being the interviewer?

The more you can touch on how to choose what questions to ask, the better!

-Frog frog

A:

Dear Foggy Frog,

First of all, I have never actually interviewed someone for a job. However, I have been the interviewee on numerous occasions, so I have strong opinions on what seems to work/not work well from the other side. And at my last job I was somewhat involved in the interviewing/hiring process, so I have a little bit of experience with that, as well.

So, first I'm going to talk about some Don'ts.

  • Don't ask more than twenty questions. You want to interview someone, not interrogate them. One time I went to an interview that lasted almost three hours, and by the time it was done, I didn't want to work for that company anymore because the interview was such an exhausting process! Like, maaaybe if it had been for a really prestigious company or position it would have been okay, but the vast majority of companies do not fall in that category.
  • Don't ask them only one or two questions. Another time I went to an interview where the only questions they asked me were, "So, what's your schedule like?" and "Are you patient on the phone with old people?" It was a bizarre experience for me, and sort of left me feeling like I had wasted my time by driving out there because I could have just answered those questions in a two minute phone conversation. 
  • Don't ask them weird questions. I know that seems so vague, but basically don't ask them questions that don't pertain to the job, that are so specific they can't really give a good answer, or that put them in an awkward position. I think not asking questions that don't pertain to the job is pretty self-explanatory, but as an example of a too-specific question, one time I was asked, "In your previous work experience, what is a time you saw a health-code violation and stood up for safety by addressing the problem?" In order to answer that question, I needed to have seen a health-code violation at my place of work and the effected a change in the company by addressing it, and most people probably haven't had an experience like that. And as far as putting the interviewee in an awkward position goes, for a while my two oldest siblings worked at the same bank. When my sister was being interviewed (my brother already worked there), she was asked, "So who would you say is a better worker, you or your brother?" Don't ask questions like that.
  • Don't just ask yes or no questions. You want to get the interviewee talking, and that's hard to do with just straight up yes or no questions.

Okay, now for some Do's!

  • Do get to know the interviewee before jumping into the "interview" questions. Especially if you're just interviewing them to see if you would like to work with them, you want to get a feel for their personality, and plus it helps put the interviewee more at ease if you seem interested in them as a person and not just as a potential employee.
  • Do be friendly and approachable, and respond to their answers in a positive way. Again, this just helps put them at ease, which helps you get a better idea of their personality than if they're just nervous about making a good impression.
  • Do ask them to give examples of things they're talking about. It's one thing to say, "Yeah, I'm so great at that!" and another to say, "Yeah, I'm good at that thing; here's an example that shows me excelling at it!"
  • Do ask questions that you would want to be asked. If there's a question that you would think is weird if someone asked you, or that you would appreciate if someone asked, that gives you a good idea of how someone else might feel about it.

Here are some links to good lists of questions! Feel free to use/not use/modify any of these, or come up with your own questions! Good luck, and I hope you find someone you want to work with!

-Alta