When I was recently asked what I thought the best interview questions were by the Metro newspaper, I instantly started thinking with my recruitment head-on…what’s the best way to get people to open up and find out about the real them?
But, actually, this was turning the interview question on its head. They wanted to know the best interview questions an interviewee can ask. Which is far more interesting!
As I thought about it, I realised that you can get REALLY bored of answering the same questions from candidates. Many of them seem like they’re being asked just because the person thinks they should. A new, genuine, creative, and exciting question really keeps you on your toes and makes you sit up and take notice.
There was some great insight from Charlotte Davies at LinkedIn around using an interview to get a better idea of a company’s culture to see if it aligns with your own, which is so important. Two of my fellow contributors from recruitment companies Wade Macdonald and SF Recruitment had good ideas around asking where the company sees itself being in five years and what are the biggest challenges it faces. All great for getting an insight into the wider priorities of the business.
So, next time you’re in an interview situation here’s some ‘grab their attention’ questions I would love to be asked in an interview. Are there any you would add?
What does a typical day look like in this role?
This simple question might sound pretty basic, but it's one of the things that gets my attention when I'm chatting to a candidate because it shows me that they're eager to understand the actual day to day work. It signals that they're keen, interested in the nuts and bolts of the role and asking questions that will help uncover whether it's a job they'd be happy to do.
I've read through the job description, but wonder whether there are key priorities for the role you'd be keen to focus on.
Job descriptions are often a wish list of things that describe a perfect candidate which often doesn't exist. This type of question will help to clarify which are the important bits and which are the just nice to haves. Ideally, this is a question you can ask before your interview to help you prepare and focus on the things you know are a priority to the hiring manager.
What are some of the things that your best performing team members have in common?
This isn't something anyone has ever asked me, but I think it's a great question because whilst the short-term objective of the interview is to get the job, the next step would be to join the team. So, understanding what makes that team tick and the sort of attributes that the most successful employees share, is a good way to decide whether the role is right for you, and how to do well if you end up getting the gig.
I'm really interested to know more about the company in terms of the bigger plan and vision?
Over and above the role and the team you'll join, most of us want to work somewhere that fits with our own sense of what's important in life. So, whether that's about the business activity of the company, the way they're tackling their impact on the environment or working in a field that really interests you etc, it's important to know that you'd be joining a company that you can feel proud to work for.
I'd really love to work here, is there anything we haven't covered or I haven't explained fully that you'd like me to go back over?
I think the most important bit about this question is the first 6 words. Being clear that this isn't just a process for you, that this is somewhere that you really want to work and the reasons why is what might just swing it between you and another candidate. Ultimately, the interviewer will see lots of people who are pretty similar on paper, so it's the enthusiasm (go steady with that) focus and sense of being keen on this particular opportunity that might just help you to nail it.