Small-business owners ask candidates whether they can cut up human heart, what do they do for fun

vbridges@newsobserver.comMarch 3, 2014 

Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges asked small-business owners their favorite question to ask potential employees and contractors during the interview process. This is what they said.

• “How do you feel about cutting up human hearts?” said Ann Black, president and CEO of ImmunoReagents, a Raleigh manufacturing facility specializing in reagents used in life science research and diagnostics markets in the U.S. and internationally. “We purify proteins from human hearts to use in diagnostic assays. Not often, but we can’t have anyone working with human tissues if they are uncomfortable doing so.”

• “My business partner, Chef Tony Hopkins, has the best interview technique. He takes all prospective line cooks and sous-chefs straight to the kitchen and gives them the onion test,” said Sean Degnan, co-owner of bu•ku, a Raleigh global street food restaurant. “He has them dice an onion while he talks to them about food, past jobs, life, etc. It tells him everything he needs to know about the applicant.”

• “What do you like to do for fun, or how do you like to spend your free time?” said Michael Balser, owner of Ship on Site of North Raleigh, which offers packing and shipping services. “The answer to this question often provides insight into whether the individual enjoys a well-balanced lifestyle, how they can be motivated, whether they are introverted or extroverted, how they might fit in with your existing team, and how they may learn best.”

• “What is your greatest strength and what is your biggest weakness?” said Laura Harper, owner of accounting firm Netaganza Inc. and supply store The Urban Chicken NC in Raleigh. “What do you need to turn that weakness into a strength?”

• “Can you tell me a couple of times you have done something to help others that people could not believe you would do for someone,” said Joey Ashley, co-owner of The Organic Bedroom in Raleigh. “This helps us find caring passionate people.”

• “If hired, where do you expect to be in two years?” said Steve Zaslow, manager of Peace Camera, a Raleigh retail camera store.

• “Why do you want to work here?” said Courtney Brown, owner of the Respite Café, a Durham coffee shop and tea house with locally sourced snacks. “What’s your favorite coffee drink and what do you know about tea?”

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service