Why you should encourage candidates to ask questions during interviews
“Do you have any questions for us?”
That question is usually a sign that the interview is about to end. But what candidates say can be useful because their questions help you:
- Learn what candidates find most interesting about the company and the role (for example, if they ask about long-term goals or the type of technology you use)
- Identify well-prepared candidates (for example, if they ask targeted questions about competitors, customers or your latest projects)
- Seize the chance to sell your company (for example, if they ask about your way of working)
Questions candidates might ask during interviews
- What are the next steps in your hiring process?
- When (and how) will I hear from you?
- Why is this position open?
- Do you have any concerns about my application?
- What do you enjoy most about working here?
- How many people are in the team and what are their roles?
- Who will I work most closely with?
- What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 3/6/12 months?
- I read that you recently [launched a new product / opened a new store in X region]. What were the biggest challenges you faced and how do you measure success in similar projects?
- How do you develop and motivate your employees?
How to answer questions from candidates
Recruiters are more familiar answering questions about the recruiting process, while hiring managers are more appropriate to discuss technical details of the role. But candidates might have questions at any point of the process. So when you’re part of a hiring team, be prepared to answer candidates’ questions even if they’re not your field of expertise. Here are some things employers should keep in mind:
- Prepare to answer the most common questions from candidates. Make sure you have all necessary information at hand before meeting with candidates. For example, learn what the structure of the team is, what the KPIs of the position are, who the new hire will report to and if they’ll have any direct reports.
- Be transparent and honest. Being mysterious and dodging questions may put off candidates. If there are things you shouldn’t disclose (like company projects that aren’t officially announced yet), it’s best to be honest and explain why you can’t answer at this point. Or, if there are things you don’t know (like tech details about the role), tell candidates that you’ll have to follow up to make sure you give them an accurate response.
- Coordinate with the rest of the hiring team. Hiring is a team effort and interviewers should be in sync to provide a positive candidate experience. Candidates may have questions at any point during the hiring process – some might want to address dealbreakers early on, while others will prefer to clarify details at the final stages. So, make sure that all team members know how to properly and consistently respond to candidates’ questions.
Red flags in candidates’ questions
- They have no questions. This doesn’t mean you should instantly raise a red flag when candidates have nothing to ask – you may have already covered a wide range of topics during the interview. But rushing to end the interview isn’t a good sign. Think of candidates’ performance during the entire interview. If you noticed that they came unprepared or seemed indifferent, they may not really be interested in the position.
- They ask things they should know. Good candidates will research your company before the interview. They might not know everything, but they should at least be familiar with the basics, like what’s your industry, which are the main products or services you offer or if you operate in one or multiple locations. Also, you might want to consider it a red flag when candidates ask again about basic things you’ve already covered during the interview.
- They ask about compensation and benefits too early in the hiring process. Salary, benefits and working schedule are important factors when candidates decide whether to accept a job offer. But these shouldn’t be the only criteria. First, candidates should focus on learning more about the role and whether it matches their skills and career goals.
- They’re unprofessional. Just like employers must pay attention not to ask illegal questions, candidates have to remain professional during the entire interview, including small talk at the beginning and at the end. Asking about interviewers’ personal background, age or nationality are red flags.