Interviewing Summer Employees? Questions To Ask

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Question:  The summer season is almost here and I am going to be interviewing for employees.  What are some great questions I can use in the interviews?

Answer:  Many small business owners feel lucky to have someone to fill the spots they need in order to open their small business and stay open for the season without having to work every shift from dawn to dusk themselves.  However, selectivity is still important.  The people you hire are your brand.  They represent who you are and what you stand for.  They are the ones you are depending on to offer the standard of care that will keep them coming back.  They are the ones that will be responsible for creating the great experiences shopping at your location that will create a referral or reference or just a great comment on Yelp or Trip Advisor.  How do you know?  Sometimes it isn’t until the newbies are on the job that you find out how they will perform, but by asking good questions and tying the interview to job requirements can get a positive impression of their potential for success on the job.  

Your interview process and probes will largely be determined by the position you are seeking to fill.  For someone working in a retail shop, the depth of questioning might be more than for a landscaper or material handler.  The amount of customer facing time will be a big determinant, which means that the tenor of the probes will be different.  In today’s environment flexibility will be of critical importance. 

Here are some great questions to use when interviewing summer employees suggested by Alison Doyle (thebalancedcareer):

  • Why are you interested in this job?
  • When are you available to work this summer? When could you start and when do you need to return to school?
  • What days and hours are you available each week?
  • How flexible is your schedule?
  • Do you have any activities that would prevent you from working on your schedule?
  • Do you have summer vacation plans?
  • Tell me about your academic goals and grades.
  • Why do you think you are qualified for this position?
  • Do you have any related experience?
  • What other jobs have you held? What did you like best/least about them?
  • Have you ever had difficulty working with a teacher or supervisor?
  • If I asked your teachers or your guidance counselor to describe you, what would they say?
  • If you have worked before, what did you like best about your last job?
  • Describe your ability to work as part of a team.
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Explain why punctuality and reliability are important attributes for employees.
  • Do you have any references I can contact?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

You also might think about more probing questions.

  • What makes you the most qualified candidate for this job?  
  • How do your friends and family describe you in three words? 
  • When you think about past summer or part time jobs, what made you proudest of your work?  
  • How do you feel you can improve our company?  
  • Tell me about a customer experience that went awry and how you handled it.   
  • Tell me what you really liked and really disliked about past jobs – summer or part time.  
  • How would past employers describe you?  
  • What was the most significant challenge you had to overcome in your last summer/part time job?  

Marc L. Goldberg is a Certified Mentor at SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands. For free and confidential mentoring, contact SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands,,, 508/775-4884. 

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