For a smaller company, hiring a new employee can be a difficult (and terrifying) journey.  It’d be a much simpler process if all you had to do is rub a magic lamp and wish for the perfect candidate.  But, alas, the world is not so simple.  Robin Williams is no longer with us, and Aladdin was nothing more than a fictional character.

So what choice do you have?  To sift through hundreds of applicants and to sit through too many interviews to remember?

Well… yeah.  That’s all we’ve got for now.

But that doesn’t mean the interview process has to be nearly as traumatic as a lot of people make it out to be.  In fact, if you’re fully prepared for the experience, you can find more qualified candidates, shorten the time it takes to bring on someone new, and minimize the possibility of running into dropouts.

However, this involves quite a few different factors – like the job posting itself and your ability to successfully pick apart a resume.  But one thing you should never forget is the quality of your interview questions.

You don’t have all day to get a read on an interviewee, and it’s not like they’re going to bring their diary to the interview and say, “Here you go.”  If your questions are strong enough, you can quickly and accurately determine if the person sitting in front of you is a good fit or not.

Here are a few best practices to consider when preparing your interview questions:

Historical Questions

Harvard Business Review recommends staying away from historical questions.  In other words, don’t ask someone to recount the past or to explain how they handled something in a previous job.  This is only 12% more effective at predicting success than a coin flip.  These types of questions give the applicant the opportunity to exaggerate a story, and as a result, you miss the opportunity to obtain an accurate reading on who the person is currently – or at all.

Three Main Goals says there are three main goals of interview questions – to assess the applicant, to describe the job and conditions, and to create goodwill for your company.  This requires you to be objective, to have an agenda, and to lean on any interpersonal skills you have.

Aspirations and Clever Questions

Since the average tenure of an employee is 4.1 years, Smart Recruiters says it’s best to avoid questions that dig into their future aspirations.  They also recommend avoiding questions that encourage ‘clever’ responses like “Name ten ways to use a pencil” or “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?”  These questions don’t give an applicant the chance to say what they’re good at or how they fit into your company, and they tend to encourage responses that have nothing to do with the job, your company, or the candidate’s experience.