I hate to start on a grim note, but it's necessary. Bringing in a few bad apples because of a lack of due diligence in the hiring process can be very costly (and inexcusable). Check out these latest statistics:

  • It can cost 33 percent of an employee's salary to replace him/her (HR Dive)
  • Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually (The Engagement Institute)
  • 56 percent of workers are planning to look for a new job in the next 6 months (PayScale)

OK, who wants to hire disengaged workers that will be bailing ship after six months on the job, raise your hand? Didn't think so. So what gives?

Offering competitive compensation and great benefits aside, it's way too common for inexperienced hiring managers to ask the wrong interview questions to size up job candidates for job/culture fit, and the people skills that lend to success on the job. This is a problem that needs fixing.

The solution to the problem

If you're not employing the science of behavioral interviewing in your hiring process, you're truly risking disaster by bringing in the wrong people.  

In essence, if you ask behavioral-interview questions, you're no longer asking questions that will lead to vague or hypothetical answers (i.e., "Why should we hire you?"), but are asking questions that must be answered based upon fact.

This gives hiring managers a clear edge; candidates may not get a chance to deliver any prepared stories or scripted answers when faced with behavioral interview questions.

Here are several questions you'll want to ask as it pertains to what makes a high-performing employee for your team or company.  

4 questions to assess motivation.

Simon Sinek once said, "When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute." Nothing beats the power of a truly engaged employee, but first, they have to have the innate drive to make things happen on their own accord. Try these proven questions to assess motivation.

  1. Describe a time when you recognized that you were unable to meet multiple deadlines. What did you do about it?
  2. Tell us about an idea you started that involved collaboration with your colleagues that improved the business.
  3. When you had extra time available in a previous position, describe ways you found to make your job more efficient, or what techniques you learned to make yourself more effective or productive? 
  4. How do you react when faced with many hurdles while trying to achieve a goal? How do you overcome the hurdles? 

3 questions to assess exceptional communication skills.

Billionaire entrepreneurs agree that communication skills breed success. Warren Buffett once said, "Without good communication skills you won't be able to convince people to follow you even though you see over the mountain and they don't." Here are the questions you should take for a spin to assess the communication skills of your job candidates.

  1. You have a small disagreement with a co-worker. How would you resolve it independently of your immediate supervisor?
  2. Tell me about a situation when you had to speak up in order to get a point across that was important to you.
  3. Give an example of a time when you persuaded a boss, customer, or peer to your point of view, even when that individual may not have agreed with you.

3 questions to assess reliability

Every company needs dependable people who won't fudge on delivering important tasks or meeting crucial deadlines. When the rubber meets the road, you want to know that they have your back, especially during crunch time. Ask these questions:

1. Tell me about a time when you promised to handle something at work that was either very difficult and/or came at a demanding time.

2. Give an example of how you work in a situation where you must prioritize and multitask without supervision.

3. How do you define what it means to be an efficient and reliable employee?

3 questions to assess flexibility

In entrepreneurial settings, things often change, and fast. To rules out rigid job candidates unable to bend with the wind in unpredictable startup environments, you'll want to assess their flexibility. Try these: 

1. Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a change in direction, whether it was a new business strategy, change in a project or customer focus, or leadership at the top. How did you react? What was the outcome?

2. Give an example of a time when you had two important projects competing for your time. How did you handle? What happened?

3. Describe a time in which you had to adjust quickly to changes over which you had no control. What was the impact of the change on you? On your work or project?

2 questions to assess desire to learn and grow 

Along with motivation and drive comes the innate desire to make oneself consistently better by being exposed to new things. This is a person you want on your team. Ask these questions: 

1. In your previous position, what specific skills or competencies did you seek out to better yourself and to help others better themselves?

2. Describe a time when you realized you needed additional skills or knowledge to be successful. What was your approach to gaining these skills? 

4 questions to assess emotional intelligence

In a recent report that surveyed more than 600 HR managers, it was determined that emotional intelligence is critically important in work settings where professionals interact with a wide range of people. The report stresses the importance of hiring managers being prepared to ask the following types of questions to help determine capacity for emotional intelligence:

  1. If you've previously reported to multiple supervisors at the same time, how did you get to know each person's preferences and juggle conflicting priorities?
  2. Tell me about a workplace conflict you were involved in, either with your peers or someone else in the company. How did you manage that conflict, and were you able to resolve it?
  3. What would a previous boss say is the area that you need to work on most? Have you taken steps to improve in this area, and if so, what have you tried to change?
  4. Tell me about a day when everything went wrong. How did you handle it?

Bringing it home

When you consider the answers you're looking for about motivation, communication, emotional intelligence and the rest, you are assessing a candidate's innate abilities that match the job for which he or she is being interviewed. For example, you don't want to hire a candidate who most enjoys working alone for your positions that require strong communication to problem-solve in a team setting.

Because the behaviors a candidate has demonstrated in previous similar positions are likely to be repeated, candidates are forced to share situations in which they may or may not have exhibited the behaviors you want to assess for your positions.