Gauging an Interviewee’s Questions

During an interview they asked what? Getting insight into what an interviewee asks during an interview. 

Hiring is hard. It’s time consuming and you typically put in a lot of effort coming up with a list of those that you want to interview in person. We’ve all conducted interviews where you carefully went through the position, you got a good sense of the person’s qualifications and experience and you’re feeling good. Then, you ask the candidate if they have any questions…and you’re left scratching your head. You’re ready to talk about important new initiatives, success factors and the company’s culture when the candidate asks questions that seem slightly self-serving. My advice is to press the pause button and don’t rush into a hiring decision. All may be well, but maybe not.

I would also suggest to a hiring manager that’s it’s a good opportunity to see the way the candidate thinks by the quality of their questions, the possible motivation behind them and the depth of their thinking. Here a few:

“What promotional opportunities are there?”
Ideally, this isn’t a terrible question, but it may be a good idea to ask the candidate what they are ultimately looking for, and, what their expectations are in regards to promotional opportunities. You may have a go-getter, but the position could be considered a stepping-stone. If they ask the question, I think it’s a fair to check in with the candidate to make sure you’re on the same page.

“When can I start taking vacation time?”
Ugh, I haven’t offered the job and they’re asking about taking time off? Well, everyone has vacations, family events and plans, so I don’t blame the person for checking in. Depending on the leave policy, you can provide the details, if appropriate. You can also ask if they have an immediate need. If you are an accounting firm and the person wants to take off the first two weeks of April, that may be a hardship! Best practice: ask.

“When is the first pay increase?”
Prior to an in-person interview, I would suggest discussing salary expectations and/or sharing what’s budgeted by phone. If they ask about pay increases during the in-person interview, you could share that pay increases are tied to performance, board approval, profitability, etc. You could share the increase percentage that was given the prior year as an example – but no promises here.

Or, nothing…….
The dreaded, “I have no questions”. Really, there must be something that you want to know? There are times when a hiring manager covers everything during their conversation, and, indeed all questions have been answered. If not, it may be a glimpse into their intellectual curiosity and/or motivation.

I would coach any hiring manager to give some thought to the types of questions that are asked by the candidate. If you aren’t comfortable answering the question during the interview, let them know you’ll get back to them. If there’s a theme of all-about-them, think about that in relation to your other candidates. Quite often, interview questions can be like poker tells. What are they showing you now could be very beneficial to know later.

Leave Comment