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Mind Your Business: Interview Questions That Tell All


Last week we ran a story on BusinessNewsDaily that got a lot of attention. It was called "The Best Interview Questions You Should Ask ." But, to be honest, I didn't like any of them. If I were hiring someone to work for me, I'd ask a whole different set of questions that would tell me a lot more about what kind of employee I was getting than the standard "tell-me-about-yourself" stuff.

Here are my all-time-best, surefire, weed-out-the-losers-and-pretenders interview questions:

What's your favorite restaurant? Who cares, right? Wrong. Everyone loves food. If your prospective job candidate can't get excited telling you about his favorite place to eat, then you know you've got a dud on your hands. Whether it's KFC or Le Bernardin doesn't matter, if they can answer your question with enthusiasm, at least you know they have a pulse.

What reality show do you watch?
Maybe the candidate doesn't watch reality TV or any television at all. Perhaps they will answer by telling you what movies they love or what they like to read. The point is that the ability to engage in a little friendly chitchat is essential. Ninety percent of succeeding in a job is having a personality and communication style that lets you get along with your customers and co-workers. The ability to answer a question like this without being dismissive, condescending, defensive or flustered will tell you that your candidate is personable and can function in a social setting.

What's your biggest regret? Boy, this one could really open a can of worms. Sob stories, dead relatives, broken engagements — who knows. If it does, you'll know this job candidate doesn't have the best judgment about what baggage to bring to work and what to write in her diary. It may be a painful few minutes if the interview goes awry, but imagine the hours and hours of TMI you'll be saving yourself and the rest of your team later.

What would you look for in an employee if you were hiring? Even if your new employee is going to be in charge of nothing more than a mop handle, knowing how they think about the manager/employee relationship is important. Odds are, the qualities they name as important in good employees are the ones they themselves value. If they say they'd hire someone who'd be fun to hang out with after work, you may want to keep looking.

What company does a great job at marketing? I don't care what business you're in, the fact is you are trying to sell something to somebody. If your candidate pays attention to how other companies — be it Apple or Applebee's — markets itself, you'll know they've got sales on their mind. Even if they will be spending their days behind the help desk, they still need to have the company's broader goals in mind. If they can tell you something about someone else's marketing, advertising, branding or customer service, you'll know they're in the right mindset.

What do you want to know about us? If this question leaves your candidate speechless, you'll know they haven't put a lot of thought into coming to work for you. If researching your company and learning about what you do hasn't inspired a few questions, then they haven't been thinking too hard about the job. And, that, right there, ought to send up a giant red flag.

Jeanette Mulvey is the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanettebnd or contact her via e-mail at


Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.