The employee interview presents the best opportunity for you to find out about a potential employee.  Resumes and/or a completed job application are essential; they give you the nuts and bolts of the person’s education and employment history.  But it’s the interview where you will get the most information about a prospective employee.  Let’s talk about some ways to learn as much as you can about the person before you.

First let me say that the interview is not intended for you to tell the applicant all about yourself and your company.  Yes, you need to give basic information about the company and describe the job fully but that should only take up about 20% of the interview.  The rest of the conversation should focus on the person being interviewed.  It is the chance for you to find out what makes this person tick, how they will fit in with your organization, and perhaps most important, what their work ethic is.  The cannabis industry is a place that many people want to work.  It’s perceived to be fun (and it is!), to have “outside the box” fringe benefits (for example, employee discounts) and have a strong future (which of course, it does).  How can you get the most information about this person within a short interview?  By asking questions that will reveal the most about them.  Here are some of the questions I always ask and what they can reveal:

How would you describe yourself?  This is another way to say “tell me about yourself” and the hope is you will find out how they perceive themselves, what their level of self-confidence is, if they are introverted or extroverted (which may not matter to you).  People who are down on themselves may find it difficult to work as they may perceive it as another opportunity to fail.  On the other hand, they may embrace a new job as an opportunity to improve their situation and show others what they can do, building self-esteem.  How people perceive themselves can tell you a lot of about them.

What motivates you?  This is a chance to find out what makes this person tick, what are their likes and dislikes, how likely are they to fit into the job you are considering them for.  For example, a grower looking to hire someone to help harvest could benefit from a person who is motivated by physical labor or finishing a project.  However, if you’re trying to find a budtender, you want someone who is motivated by meeting new people, helping others and achieving goals (such as sales goals).

What is your opinion of the last company you worked for?  You don’t want to have someone working for you that has a chip on their shoulder about some job experience, particularly if that job experience might get repeated in your organization.  You can learn a lot by how someone answers this.  If they choose the positive aspects of their previous job, they will likely have a positive outlook on their job with you.  A negative opinion of their prior company shouldn’t disqualify the applicant, but be sure to explore the reasons why.  There might be a legitimate reason that they had a bad experience.

What value do you bring to an organization?  This is another question that will tell you not only what the person’s opinion of themselves is but also what they think their skill set is.  Their response may be as simple as “you can rely on me to be here every day and work hard while I am here” and that’s great!  They may also describe to you how their prior experience is relevant to the job you are trying to fill.  Either way, it’s a good way to learn that much more about this person you may be committing to.

What do you think your former employers would say about you?  The reason I like this question is because it offers the chance for the interviewee to tell you if there is something negative on their record.  For example, they may say, “I didn’t get along well with my last supervisor, their opinion of me is not so good”, and that will allow you to ask more questions and get more details about what this person did or did not do wrong.  By the same token, you may learn more about how this person thinks of his or herself, because they will assume their former employers feel the same way that they do, about their performance.

You should assemble your own set of questions; these are just some of my personal favorites.  Just remember to use this opportunity to learn as much as you can about your applicant.  You will be making an investment of time and money in this person, make sure it’s a wise one.