Mergers & Acquisitions Advisory

A Neumann & Associates, LLC

March 31, 2016

Important questions to ask in interviews

By Achim Neumann

Asking effective questions in job interviews is an important task, as it avoids the expensive mistake of paying an ineffective employee a salary over a period of many months or years.

While there are many creative questions that hiring managers can ask,  some are better than others at getting an interviewee to reveal their inner character.  Below, we have assembled some questions that achieve this goal.

Deliver a sales pitch on behalf of this company to me, a potential customer

This question will test the candidate on their knowledge of the company,  as their ability to sell its products or services will depend on how thoroughly they have researched the business. They won’t be expecting this question, so it will evaluate their ability to craft sales pitches on the fly.

Being able to market and sell products or services is central to the survival of any business, so evaluating their ability in this department is paramount when recruiting for almost any position in a company.

Ask them about their interpersonal relationships with their co-workers

Many candidates in the job market these days have the technical qualifications and the education necessary to fit into any role, or so it seems. Human beings are complex beings though, so it is vital to evaluate them for interpersonal fit.

With this in mind,  ask them about the worst relationships they have had with co-workers in the past. Ask them to go into detail, as their answers will tell everything that is needed to make a decision on whether this individual would be a great employee for the company.

If they go out of their way to bad-mouth former co-workers, it is highly likely they will eventually experience friction with employees in the business in which they are trying to get hired.

Explain a complex concept so that someone in grade school could understand it

Any business has its fair share of jargon; being able to explain concepts to those that don’t know the lingo is vital in fostering cross-department communications.

While a high grade point average is a good starting point when it comes to recruiting intelligent talent, the true mark of a smart employee is one that can take a complicated problem and break it down into terms that even someone in grade school could act upon.

By getting them to offer up a complicated process and successfully explain it to the interviewer in a manner that anyone could comprehend,  it will show that this individual will be an effective member of the team.

Ask about a time they messed something up … what happened and why?

No human being is perfect, but hiring someone that isn’t afraid to own up to their mistakes is a rare quality. Stilted responses pointing to someone’s propensity to work too hard should be disregarded in most cases, as it shows they aren’t willing to expose their ego by acknowledging that they too are capable of making real mistakes.

However, those willing to make themselves vulnerable by showing that they are willing to accept responsibility for their errors, and explain how they recovered from them should be given a long hard look when making a final decision on who to hire.

About A Neumann & Associates, LLC

A Neumann & Associates, LLC is a professional mergers & acquisitions and business brokerage firm having assisted business owners and buyers in the business valuation and business transfer process through its affiliations for the past 30 years. With an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, the company has senior trusted professionals with a deep knowledge based in multiple field offices along the East Coast and has performed hundreds of business valuations in its history. The firm’s competitive transaction fees are based on successfully completing transactions. For more information, please contact A Neumann & Associates at 732-872-6777 or

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