26 Jan 2015

Asking the right questions...

There have been several interviews recently where candidates have fallen down during interviews on what I would refer to as ‘the basics’.  This includes several candidates who have asked questions which really should be on an interview black list* – it reminded me of the importance of asking a) questions during interviews and b) relevant ones.

Often candidates will have spent all their preparation time thinking of answers to the questions that the recruiter might ask them.  And of course, spending some time on this is essential.  However...
The questions that a candidate asks can be as revealing to hiring managers as their responses.  Asking questions demonstrates engagement and interest. It shows that the candidate wants to find out if the company and the role are a good fit for them.  Being proactive with questions can allow a more natural flow to the conversation during an interview.  Ask questions that show you have a genuine personal interest in the company and its products.   Don’t fake interest – it will be obvious.  A candidate recently interviewed for a client services role in a leading advertising agency.  They were interviewing for a role on a top retail client and prior to the first interview, the candidate had visited several of the retailer’s stores and also reviewed what their two top competitors were doing.  They went to the interview armed with pre-prepared questions about the in-store strategy and their observations about what the competitors were doing.  The client, faced with two candidates with equivalent experience, took this candidate to the next stage citing their ‘intelligent and prepared’ questions a key differentiator.

Top tips for interview questions:
·         Do your homework – website, social media etc
·         A bit of chit chat at the start of the interview goes a long way....but don’t go too off topic or hijack the interview.
·         Have a pre-written list of questions – you can annotate the job description with these – it shows you have thought about the role and the interview in advance
·         Never ask about holidays, working hours or sick pay at first interview...
·         Don’t ask questions that highlight you’ve done no research. Clients do not want to be asked ‘what does the company do?’
·         Always at the end of the interview ask the interviewer if they have any doubts about your ability to do the job (you can counter them)  and what is the next step in the process
·         Get the balance right.  The interviewer should not feel that they are being interviewed!

*Recent bloopers include, ‘do you do background checks?’, ‘do you monitor email and internet usage?’ and ‘what is the sick pay policy?’