This post originally appeared at OpenForumThere’s a lot to consider when you’re hiring people. When you’re a small business on a tight budget, you can’t afford to make many mistakes.
“One good [employee] is worth more than 1,000 mediocre ones,” said Scott Hintz, the co-founder of Tripit at the Small Business Summit 2012 in Manhattan. “Keep the team small, but make sure they’re high-quality people,” he said. “You need to hire problem-solvers.”
1. Tell me about problems you identified that other people couldn’t see.
This is a bit of a trick question, admits Hintz. The question opens up the floodgates, and often the person rattles off a bunch of problems. You can tell if someone is a whiner—especially if he or she starts blaming others for those problems.
“If it’s someone who says ‘I saw these big strategic things, took some data home at night and came to a different conclusion,’ that’s a story I want to hear,” says Hintz. “There’s real insight there.”
2. Tell me about a situation where something went wrong, and what you did about it.
The key to posing this question is to dig, and once they start opening up about what happened, dig some more. Eventually, you find out the granular detail about how they handled the problem, and it weeds out the people that are bending the truth.
“You get past that veneer and eventually it becomes hard to make up answers,” says Hintz. “Or, you really find out all the stuff they did to pull it off.”
3. If I were to talk to people you grew up with, what would they say about you?
Being introspective is often not enough—good team members have to be able to effectively see themselves through other people’s eyes.
“I like to see the level of self-awareness,” says Hintz. “If they can talk intelligently about the difference between how they perceive themselves and how others do, it shows emotional maturity.”
4. Tell me something that has a lot of buzz right now from a contrarian point of view.
Hintz likes contrarians, because that tells him that they have independent thinking and don’t just go with the flow.
“Whether they’re right or not, it doesn’t matter,” says Hintz. “It shows me that they’re thinking for themselves, and that they can see value where others can’t.”
5. How do you stay abreast of the new trends and sites that are out there?
In a business that works as fast as Hintz’s does, workers need to be up-to-date. If they are, it shows that they’re passionate about their job, because they care enough to learn about the daily ins-and-outs of the industry.
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