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Questions Top Candidates Ask the Interviewers

November 29, 2012

describe the imageYou can tell a lot about a candidate based on the types of questions they ask. Where a lot of candidates’ questions may tend to focus on the inherent benefits of the job (compensation, benefits, etc), I like to keep my eye out for candidates who ask a different series of questions. Even when you’re not directly asking behaviorally based interview questions, targeted at specific competencies, you can still learn a lot from someone in those final 15 minutes of the interview.

Often times we look for “red flags” in an interview. Well, here are my favorite “green flags.”

Question: Where do you see the organization in the next 5-10 years?
What this tells me: This candidate is trying to identify where he or she fits within the organization over the long haul and isn’t likely looking for an interim position. This person may also be trying to figure out his or her opportunities to develop and grow within the organization, which is a welcome counter to the recent stereotypes of job commitment across industries today.

Question: Why did you join the organization?
What this tells me: This candidate isn’t completely focused on verbally vomiting every single accolade in order to convince me why I should hire him or her. He or she is using this opportunity to learn more about a potential co-worker or manager to see how value structures align. I’ll never forget my first conversation with Select International at a happy hour with Matt O’Connell, one of our founders, before I was even in consideration for a position. He told me his philosophy was “work hard, play hard,” a value I hold very near to my heart, in that instant Select International became my No. 1 prospect. It’s a passive way candidates ask the organization to sell you on them. Great candidates will always have multiple options, so it’s best to view their hiring as a two-way street.

Question: What are the next steps?
What this tells me: Probably less than if the individual didn’t ask the question. This most frequently coached question to ask, in addition to being thorough and polite, shows the candidate has interest in the position. A person who is eager to follow-up in two weeks if not having received any feedback probably can’t bear the thought of being kept in suspense any longer. They have initiative, follow through on their word (provided they actually do follow-up) and are clearly immune to any of the scare tactics your hiring team threw at them during the final interview series.

The “intangibles” are measurable. You just have to be able to know where to look for them.

how to conduct interviews

Adam Hilliard