December 5, 2021

The 10 Minute Interview

My friend Jeff recently bought a tanning salon. He was talking to me about some outrageous things that his employees have done (we’ll leave this for another post) and we got to discussing how to avoid hiring bad employees.

Now, hiring is obviously much different in a technical position vs. somebody who’s going to work at a tanning salon. Luckily, I have some experience in both. Back in college I used to be a manager at a local fast food place (hey, they had tuition reimbursement and paid me about 23k/year – that’s great for a 19 year old right?)

Anyway, I told Jeff that I used to do interviews in about 10 minutes with only 4 questions. He asked how and I said, it’s simple. With the right 4 questions, you’ll be able weed out all the bad employees.

So, here’s my 4 non-technical interview questions for the service industry:

1. Tell me about the worst customer you’ve ever had to deal with. Some people may not have a worst customer, so in that case you could ask: Tell me about a time you went out of the way to help a customer.

You’re looking for an answer that shows dedication to the customer. You want an employee that turns bad customers into good customers by solving their problems.

2. Tell me about a rule you disagreed with at your last job. Why? Did you follow it anyway? Here, you’re looking for somebody who understands that rules have a purpose, and what that purpose is. You want to avoid people with the “me vs the company” attitude.

3. Tell me about the best employee you’ve ever worked with, and the worst employee you’ve ever worked with. How did you deal with the bad one? What made the best one so good? Again, you want somebody who helps coach the bad employee, and somebody who recognizes going the extra mile as being a good employee. You want to skip over the candidates who start off with things like “well, there was this one bitch at my last job…” Yes, that’s a true story.

4. You observe an employee stealing, what do you do? In the fast food industry, I substituted “eating a french fry” because many candidates didn’t equate that with stealing.

And that’s it. Using those 4 questions I was able to quickly and accurately assess how well an employee would do in the job. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the required questions like “can you lift 50lbs, can you work nights, are you over 18, can you make change in your head, etc.”

I never had a bad hire using that method.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com