Selecting great employees is one of the most challenging aspects of being a small business owner. You can have complete control over nearly all other factors of your service station, but if you hire employees that are not the right fit for your business, you’re likely to find yourself in trouble.
One of the most common job openings at your petrol station is likely to be that of a Console Operator. Though the position may seem straightforward and otherwise simple to fill, choosing the correct person for the job can be the difference between your business earning a reputation for excellent service, and a slew of complaints and underperformance by employees.
Keeping this in mind, here are some crucial questions to ask candidates during your next Console Operator interview, and why they matter.
1. What skills do you have which will help you excel as a Console Operator at this petrol station?
After introductions are made, this should ideally be one of the first few questions you ask any possible future employee. Answers given to the question will not only give you a good gauge in what the individual feels are their strengths and weaknesses, but also allow you to understand what prior experience they may have in the field.
For example, an individual who struggles to answer this question may well be a poor fit for your service station. An inability to answer this question may reveal low confidence in ability, or may reveal lack of applicable skills such as customer service experience.
2. How would you handle an unhappy or unsatisfied customer?
This question can help you understand whether or not your candidate has experience in de-escalating customer conflicts. Because excellent customer service is at the forefront of your petrol station’s reputation, an inability to answer this question, or an answer that indicates lack of caring for the customer can be a signal to keep looking.
Good answers to this question include tactics that assess and deescalate the situation, resolve the problem, and leave the customer happy with their overall experience at your petrol station.
3. What do you think are the biggest challenges and rewards to working in retail or customer service?
Individuals who can thoughtfully give their perspective on the benefits and drawbacks of the job often have the experience needed to qualify them for a Console Operator position. Answers that identify challenges such as multitasking or handling customer complaints, or cite rewards such as working with a team or forming customer relationships are good markers of a candidate who is likely right for the job.
Asking this question also helps to identify what your future employees are looking for in a job, and gives you a chance to highlight what you believe the challenges and rewards of the position may be. Often, questions such as these can be excellent ways to get to know the qualifications of your candidate, but also provide an accurate picture of the proposed position.
4. Do you enjoy working with people or being part of a team?
Though at times Console Operators may work a shift alone, a keen ability to work with others, enjoy customer interaction, and be part of a team is a huge marker of future employee success. Those who indicate a strong dislike for being given direction, sharing or delegating work, or being part of a team are likely unfit candidates for your petrol station.
5. What is your availability, and when can you start?
You may have found a candidate who seems to check all of your boxes- ample customer service experience, great attitude, and high levels of competency. However, all of this becomes unhelpful if the individual’s availability does not match with shifts you are trying to fill. Asking this question before hiring allows you to be certain that your candidate can start when you need them, and can work the shifts you need.
Furthermore, being transparent about what a Console Operator’s hours or schedule will look like can help your candidate determine whether or not the job is a good fit. Someone who is not looking to work early or late hours may be otherwise qualified, but ultimately better suited to customer service jobs in a different field.
6. Why do you want to work here?
This is a question asked in almost all professional interviews, for good reason. Asking this question gives you insight into your candidates motivations and goals not only for the beginning of their job, but for the span of their employment.
Of course, everyone is looking to get paid. However, preferred candidates may cite factors such as convenience, hours, or even an amplified interest in a future career in the field. The best answers are those that indicate a desire to grow professionally within their time at your petrol station, meaning the candidate feels that the job means more to them than simply being a way to make money.
7. What would you do if the team member taking over from you at the end of your shift didn’t show up?
Like the previous question which asks about customer conflict resolution, this question presents your candidate with a hypothetical situation. Observing how the potential employee thinks through and answers questions such as these can give you valuable insight into their problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Candidates that take large amounts of time to answer these questions, or offer incomplete or unrealistic resolutions may not be qualified for a Console Operator position. Alternatively, quick and thoughtful answers show an individual that is quick to problem solve and will likely be able to professionally and successfully handle issues that present themselves on the job.
8. If hired, how long do you plan on working here?
As with questions regarding availability, asking this question is crucial to determine the reliability and practicality of any new hire. A good candidate should be able to make a commitment of more than just a few weeks or months. Accidentally hiring candidates who have no intention of sticking around more than a few weeks or months can result in high employee turnover and a general sense of instability at your petrol station.
9. Why should we hire you over other candidates?
This question is a good one to close with. As the interview comes to an end, this question is open ended and stands as a final chance for candidates to truly sell themselves, or reveal any other skills, experience, or unique advantages they may possess. Qualified candidates should be able to focus in on a few attributes, skills, or experiences that set them apart from others.
As a business owner, you have the ability to hire almost anyone, so why not ensure that each of your employees is bringing something distinctive to the job? Doing so will create a work environment that has individuals with a variety of strong skill sets, making sure that no problems go overlooked.
10. Do you have any questions for me?
All good interviews should finish with this question. You spend nearly all of the time in control of the interview, collecting and analysing information about the person across from you. Therefore, it is not only fair, but truly respectful, to allow your candidate to ask you any questions they may have about the position or your petrol station in general.
As an owner, you should be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions about pay, responsibilities, and work environment in a way that allows each candidate to feel empowered. After all, it is hard to determine whether any job, not just that of a Console Operator, is the right fit without a full spectrum of information.
Good candidates should be prepared to ask thoughtful questions about your petrol station and the Console Operator position. Having questions at the ready indicates preparedness and a true interest in the position, making it likely that your future hire is right for the job.