NJM Blog

Interview Prep for Small Businesses

Women talking in a casual job interview at a cafe - small business concepts.

As a small business owner, you might shudder at the idea of finding extra help. Interviews can be stressful from either perspective, boss or applicant. Being prepared is essential to finding the right candidate.

Here are 7 ways to prepare for your next interview:

  1. Identify the job responsibilities for the position.
    Brainstorm a list of traits a successful candidate should possess in order to perform the job. If the candidate must know how to write in a particular programming language, speak a foreign tongue, or use specific programs or machines, make a list. Decide which skills are strict requirements, and which can be acquired through training.

  2. Review each applicant’s resume and cover letter.
    Check for the core proficiencies you identified earlier. Familiarize yourself with the interviewee’s education, work history, and skills before your conversation. This will free up time to get into more useful interview questions.

  3. Develop questions to get to know the applicant better.
    Be prepared to ask open–ended questions and provide situational prompts. Think of a stressful situation that might happen in the course of business at your company. Ask how the applicant might handle that situation. Historical behavior is often the most reliable for predicting future abilities; ask how the candidate has handled certain scenarios or tasks in the past. Also prepare yourself to ask follow–up questions based on the applicant’s comments.

  4. Know the answers to commonly asked questions.
    Prepare a succinct overview of the company, the position, and your expectations for the position. Applicants frequently ask about a normal day on the job, work/life balance, performance assessments, and opportunities for growth.

  5. Take notes during the conversation.
    How do you prefer to take notes — on paper or on a computer? Do you prefer checkboxes for points covered, a question–and–answer sheet that you fill in during the conversation, or a blank page? Go into the interview with a plan — and all the materials you need. Your notes will help you compare candidates later.

  6. Set up a rubric to make the choice easier.
    Prepare yourself for the post–interview process of reflecting on your conversation and getting your initial thoughts down. Consider a rubric that encompasses the top proficiencies you identified in step 1.

  7. Prepare the candidate.
    Inform them of the process before and explain the next steps after the interview. They will appreciate the knowledge. It is also polite to send an email if you choose to move forward with a different candidate.

Gurchiek, K. (n.d.) 10 interview questions job candidates should ask. The Society for Human Resource Management. shrm.org
How to conduct an effective interview (n.d.). The Hartford Business Owner’s Playbook. thehartford.com
Sullivan, B. (n.d.) How to conduct a job interview. Indeed. indeed.com