7 interview questions to weed out bad candidates

Interview questions can be one of the most effective tools to screen candidates as well as a crucial step in eliminating the “bad apple” candidates before they become new hires. But interviewing takes skill, patience, and the right set of tools.

And if you don’t start with the right tools — in this case, questions — then your final candidates may not end up being a good match for your company. But sometimes we rely on the same rotation of interview questions — ones that really don’t dig quite deep enough.

So I asked a few of my clients — the restaurant owners and operators in the field — to submit their favorite dig deep interview questions used to weed out bad apple candidates. Here are their responses. 

What intrigues you about a career in the restaurant industry [or insert other type of industry here]?

This is a fantastic question to replace the old interview standby, “Why are you a good fit for this job?” Typically you’ll be interested in hiring someone who will stay long-term and who also has the motivation and ability to progress through the company hierarchy.

This updated question may provide a greater overview of the candidate’s true motives and intentions, including their passion for the industry. So instead of focusing solely on the job itself, you can delve into the reasons why the candidate is interested in the industry as a whole. 

What specifically drew you to our company?

You want candidates to prepare and do the research. Ideally, before the interview they have perused your website, social media accounts, and maybe even talked to current or former employees who are in their social circle.

If the candidate gives a vague response, ask a few follow-up questions to try to pull a more descriptive response out of them — sometimes they’re just nervous. If nothing of substance emerges though, it could be a sign of unpreparedness.

Think about a time when a coworker or customer becomes upset or angry with you. What emotions did you feel? What was the final resolution?

Even when a candidate won’t work directly with customers, their behavior toward and relationships with coworkers ultimately affect the company and the final product or service. When you’re trying to build a solid, cohesive culture, knowing how candidates react when conflict inevitably flares up can go a long way to determining their fit within the organization.

If you could develop any business concept or startup, what would it be?

You want your employees to be creative thinkers and motivated go-getters. Based on a candidate’s responses, you’ll be able to see just how big they can dream as well as if their concept is realistic and marketable too. Companies can always use employees with an entrepreneurial spirit who can think outside the box and recommend problem-solving solutions.

What is one change you would make to this company and why?

This question follows a similar train of thought as the previous one, but does a couple of additional things too. First, it helps you see how confident the employee is in sharing their opinion about your company, especially sharing that with someone who they are meeting for the first time and simultaneously trying to impress.

Second, it also identifies whether they can share their opinion in a diplomatic and professional manner. And finally, as they try to “sell” you on the change, it can offer a peek into their salesmanship abilities.

How would someone who likes you the least describe you?

Of course, candidates want to put their best face forward. So when you ask something like this, you can see how they respond under pressure. And if you listen closely, the adjectives or characteristics they share can relay interesting insights too. Keep in mind that some “negatives” may actually be positives though. 

If you had to describe yourself as a food, what food would you be?

While this type of question has never personally been my favorite, there are lots of reasons to love working in the restaurant industry and interviewing in the industry can be just as fun. This question is a great icebreaker to get the interview rolling. And depending on the candidates’ answers, it can shed some light on their personality and their cultural fit as well.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram for more HR and leadership insights. Or check out my company, Restaurant HR Group, to learn how we help restaurants manage their greatest assets.

Need more help hiring employees? Homebase Hiring and Onboarding makes it easy to find the best candidates. Sign up today. 

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