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Business Owners: Ask These 5 Questions When Interviewing Potential New Employees

The workforce is rapidly changing. Baby boomers are retiring, and millennials are flooding the job market. A decade from now, this tech-savvy, team-orientated generation will account for 75 percent of the nation's workforce. They are unique, entering the job market as skilled users of technology and social media. Having come of age during The Great Recession, their attitudes towards work and company loyalty differ from previous generations.

To find the employee that has motivations and skills that will dovetail with your workplace culture and invigorate your business, you may need to toss aside conventional interview questions. Of course, your own management style will also dictate what you are looking for in a new employee. Do you want someone who understands your vision and will be adept at following your direction, or are you comfortable handing over the reins to an ambitious and driven employee?


Do you prefer to create or lead?

Creators tend to be more internally focused and are masters at detail. Leaders look outward at the over-arching picture, and they are compulsive problem-solvers. This question will give you insight into a prospective employee's standard mode of operation and passion.


Describe a project you've worked on with a colleague or client. How did you contribute? What were you able to learn from your partners?

The new workforce is connected with almost everyone, carrying the internet in their pocket via a smart phone. You want to understand how the candidate interacts with others in a work situation. Allow prospective employees to talk freely of their roles as a team member to get a better feel of how they will fit in with your organization.


How do you prioritize competing tasks?

Use examples from your industry to determine the candidate's skill at multi-tasking. Employees who came of age during the Digital Revolution are used to being bombarded with distractions. This question will help you understand how well your candidate has learned to separate the important from the unimportant, and the urgent from the non-urgent.


Can you describe a time when you experienced failure?

Many of your interviewees were raised with a parenting style that sought to boost self-esteem by not allowing kids to stumble. They may be accustomed to school systems that would graduate students to the next grade whether or not they earned the promotion, and organized sports gave everyone a trophy. Without experience in disappointment and frustration, your employee may not have the ability to function smoothly when things go wrong. Listen to the candidate's response to determine how well he or she responds to failure.


Where do you want to be 10 years from now?

This isn't a new question, but is more important now as the days when an employee expected to devote their entire career to one organization have passed. Get an idea of a candidate's ideal career trajectory to better understand how he or she will fit into your company.


This article was written by Gillian Burdett of for CBS Small Business Pulse.


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