Interview Questions/Procedures

Ok experienced owners & managers, I am about to start interviews for hiring our opening staff. Do you all have any tricks, questions or procedures you recommend when interviewing potential employees?

Any tips for hiring your first staff?

I had two questions I always used to change things up a bit.

  1. If I were to find some of your previous customers, what would they have to say about you?
  2. If I were to call your previous bosses, what would they have to say about you?

Also, you might consider hiring with a probationary period.
Also, I’m more apt to hire friends of current employees over people that just walked in off the street. If you have a good staff, they most likely will not recommend someone that won’t be good for you.

Finally, i believe there is a few posts in the FAQ list on the subject of hiring that you might look into.

EDIT: One last thing, since its your first staff, make sure you’re comfortable with those you hire. If you’re not comfortable with them, its gonna make things more stressful for you. If something feels funny about an applicant, i’d refrain from hiring them for now.

Ask them for directions to where they live.
Watch if they can explain it easily.
This will show how well they think.
Watch to see if they have any trouble describing the directions.
This will show their confidence in themselves.
Watch to see if they keep eye contact.
This will show how well they work with people.

There are no magic questions. Some people give great interviews and are horrible workers. A list of good references is really a big help. Call the references. I have had more success with references then any question asked.

This is a previous thread (buried on page 9) that had some good ideas: Interviews.

Edit: I’m also starting to think that a good test for potential cashiers or managers would be to ask them to “show me the money.” Well, their money actually. I’m thinking that someone who shows you a wallet with bills faced and grouped by denomination would be a much better candidate than someone who pulls a handful of wadded up bills out of his/her pocket. If they don’t respect their money, how can I expect them to respect mine.

Is it ok to ask them:

  1. What music they like
  2. Do they play musical instruments
  3. If they are married and have kids
  4. How long they need the job for
  5. Political views

I know you may think weird… but just wondering for an idea :?

As typed number 3 is an illegal question in the US. As for 1,2 and 5 what information are you trying to infer?
A good guideline can be found here … l_ques.htm
you will also want to check with federal and state agencies for any guidelines they might have.


I would be careful about items 3,4, and 5. If you ask those questions and end up not hiring a person, they might try and spin things and bring a discrimination case against you. I’d save those questions for after hiring.

You’ll want questions that you ask as a standard to everyone and some specific to each position. In some cases if you don’t as the same questions to all candidates then it can be construed as discrimintory. you’ll also want the job descriptions and duties created before hand listing any bona fide job qualifications such as the physical requirements of the job. Check out my previous post for some good guidelines in illegal and legal questions. Many illegal questions can be rephrased to try and get the desired information without breaking the law.

When I do interviewing I use both direct and open ended questions. I like open ended questions because it give the interviewee a chance to run at the mouth and will more than likely give you more information than they intended. These types of questions usually start like this “Tell me about a time when you where solved a problem that save the company money.” or “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a confrontational or angry customer”. Their answers will normally lead into other questions and brings a more conversational tone to the interview. Look up Behavioral interview on wikipedia for more example quesitions. I found whne I changed from just direct give me the answers questions to some direct and some behavioral I had a better interview and gain much more info than I normally would have.

I also try to have at least one other person in the interview with me to get a second opinion; they can even ask quesitons. I also agree with stebby, if you don’t feel good then dont hire the person.


These are the type of questions I am looking for thanks guys! I really am looking for questions that will give me a better idea of the person I am interviewing.

For those of you using a probation period how long do you keep them on probation? For those of you who do not hire with a set probation period do you have a reason you don’t?

I didnt use a probationary period in my last job, however, if i ever get back into the business, i’d use a 30 day probationary period. I know of a couple places (non pizza) that use a 90 day period.

All jobs are sales jobs! How about asking them to sell a random object to a stranger. I’ve handed something as simple as a salt shaker to an interviewee and asked them to go sell it to a regular and even a passerby. You get lots of information by their reaction as well as their action(can-do attitude v. hesitation, how they converse with strange people when they are not prepared, how they improvise, and most importantly, how they sell).

I got this idea from someone else, but I don’t recall who. Sorry I couldn’t give the proper credit.

I’ve had my best luck hiring people for their first job - open minds, no “I already know how to do this” attitudes. Quiet, even shy kids are usually the best: they work, not talk. And just to be different from the last poster: I NEVER hire “salesmen”, they can usually be described as “slick, smiling, fast-talking and insincere”.

I just went through 3 straight days of interviews. I had an idea for my interviewees (FOH only) - I gave them a stack of monopoly money and asked them to make change (I handed them a 500 and told them I owed 232).

I was scared and stunned at how many people (some of whom were intelligent) could not make change. I had to take the money away from several individuals because they simply could not succeed. While I do think making change is a skill that can be taught, I thought it was a generally useful exercise to gauge how people operated under pressure.

Monopoly money is an excellent idea. I’ve purchased miniature “cash drawers” at the dollar store for my kids before with bills and change which would allow for some more accurate simulations. I was thinking about doing that for managers to help explain how to divide the bank and deposit the way I want it done.

My POS tells the employees the total amount of change to give to the customer. But after working with my son on a school worksheet where he had to “give an amount of change in the fewest coins possible” task - I got to wondering how many of my employees would miss questions on this 4th grade assignment?

This Spongebob scene comes to mind: