The Business Advisory Blog

The Business Advisory Blog

Insight, news and updates from Alliott NZ Chartered Accountants, Auckland New Zealand. The views expressed here are the views of the author and should be discussed in further detail should an article be relevant to your individual circumstances.

While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information in this publication, this firm and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents. Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.

Anthony McIlroy
Published on

As the number rises in building consents issued, so does the demand for labour in the trades sector.

boss checklist inspect-136 We have noticed a considerable shortage in the availability of competent labour to perform even some of the most elementary roles. This is compounded by a common belief that if you can swing a hammer or yield a crimping tool then there is an opportunity for a better wage down the road. The result is a high degree of churn in the industry at the moment.

When the time comes to replace or add to your head count you want to make sure you are getting the right people on the team. Doing so will avoid the costly rework or delays from labour that was never up to scratch to start with.

To give you a leg up we have prepared a five-step process to use when defining your questions and conducting an interview. To top it off we provide a list of common interview questions to extract the type of information you need to make an informed decision:

1. Prepare your questions

Before you meet the candidate you need to have first sorted out the series of questions you are going to ask that gets the information you need. Sure you may not want to make the interview process feel too structured but without a schedule of questions you are unlikely to get the answers you need to make an informed decision.

2. Define what you need

Too often in a short labour market we see people stepping into roles that are outside of their previous experience, a small percentage will excel given the challenge, but most people grow into challenging roles rather than be ready to tackle it as part of a new employment opportunity. (Even if they say they can do it). Defining what you need and develop questions around this.

3. Define what attributes you want in a person

Every business wants hard working staff but what does that mean? Do you want someone who can complete rote processes efficiently or do you need them to think a bit wider and solve problems. Framing questions around the candidate’s preference in working style and getting them to explain how they resolved worksite problems in the past and asking what they get up to outside of the work environment will assist you in ascertaining these attributes.

4. Listen

During an interview it is easy to talk about your business and what you do in too much detail. Generally this comes about because you have been in business for a number of years so have a lot of success and war stories to tell. An introduction and overview of the business is always needed and remember your selling your business as well so it should be positive in its reflection but remember to hold yourself back and let the interviewee do most of the talking.

5. Ask follow-up questions

A great way to avoid talking too much but also gain more information on the experience and attributes of the person is to ask follow up questions to responses they give This leads to more detail - both positive and negative - on their previous experience and attributes. Follow up questions are usually framed by asking what, how, or why e.g. “how did that situation turn out?” or “what did you learn from that situation?”
Below is a list of questions to pick and choose in an interview process to obtain the information you need to make an accurate assessment of the person you are interviewing:

Basic Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
  • What interested you to apply for this job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What did you like least about your last job?
  • When were you most satisfied in your job?
  • What were the responsibilities of your last position? 
  • Why are you leaving your present job?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Behavioral interview questions

  • What was the last project you headed up, and what was its outcome?
  • Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty at work?
  • Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?
  • Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?
  • What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
  • What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
  • If I were your supervisor and asked you to do something that you disagreed with, what would you do?
  • What was the most difficult period in your life, and how did you deal with it?
  • Give me an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job.
  • Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them.

Career development questions

  • What are you looking for in terms of career development?
  • How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
  • What kind of goals would you have in mind if you got this job?
  • If I were to ask your last supervisor to provide you additional training or exposure, what would she suggest?

More questions for your candidate

  • What kind of personality do you work best with and why? 
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you like to do? 
  • What are your lifelong dreams? 
  • What do you ultimately want to become?
  • List five words that describe your character

If you are thinking you could do with an accountant who thinks about more than just filing tax returns and considers useful business advice like this, please call Anthony McIlroy at Alliotts in Auckland on 09-520-9200 today.

Topics: Growth human resources Interviewing talent trade businesses