Anyone who has had to hire someone understands the basics of an interview. From the perspective of the hiring manager, the goal is to ask the right set of questions to get a better understanding of the candidate sitting in front of you: will this person be able to perform well in this role, collaborate with the team, and ideally stay with the company for a long time?
But hiring is a two-way street. The candidate is also interested in learning whether or not this role is right for them: will they succeed in this role, enjoy working with this team, and even enjoy coming in to work every day?
Both sides ultimately want to feel like they’re making the right decision. For this reason, it’s essential that hiring managers are prepared to answer candidates’ questions to ensure that the right fit is there for both parties. Here are seven of the most common questions you should be prepared to answer while interviewing a prospective employee.
1. Tell me about the everyday responsibilities of this job.
This is a question you (hopefully!) hear at every single interview you conduct. Being 100% prepared to answer this question can help you find a candidate who is truly a great fit for the job.
Instead of simply repeating the snapshot of responsibilities listed on the initial job description, try to give each candidate a true feel for what their workday might look like once hired. Any frequent meetings, collaborations or conference calls should be discussed. If they’re expected to travel, mention that now.
Ideally, you’ll be able to map out what this potential new hire might be doing hour by hour. For a personal touch, add colorful details about could-be colleagues and workplace culture.
If this is a second interview or you think this applicant might really be the one, it’s sometimes helpful to bring in a potential coworker that the candidate might eventually be working with if hired. This is especially helpful if, due to company size or structure, you aren’t able to answer questions about day-to-day responsibilities satisfactorily.
2. What’s it like to work here?
This is a very important question that should not be overlooked. A simple “it’s great” will likely not be convincing enough. This is an excellent opportunity to offer detailed, elaborate information about company culture. After all, what your interviewee is really asking you is “will I be happy here?”
If your company has outstanding parental leave benefits and flexible work hours, share that! Mention to the inquiring prospect that the company treats parents very well and leaves a lot of room for hard working employees to make time for things that matter.
This is also a great time to reveal what makes your workplace unique and fun, whether that’s unlimited espresso, free lunch or quarterly community outreach days.
However, if you know that your company culture is, for example, stressful and cut-throat, you’ll want to prepare an answer to this question very carefully. You want to give accurate information about your workplace, but you don’t want to turn off candidates who don’t fit a “traditional mold.”
3. What are you looking for in an employee?
If your prospect asks this question, they likely aren’t being pushy. They’re being diligent. They want to know what strengths, skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal employee because ultimately, they want to know that they can succeed in this role.
Don’t be afraid to answer honestly. It’s unusual to find an applicant who checks every single box, but if you’re open to having a frank discussion about qualifications, you’d be surprised just how many fringe candidates actually have the very talents you’re looking for. Sometimes skills are simply mastered in an unexpected way.
4. What’s your favorite part of your job?
This is another way for an applicant to gauge how much you actually like working for your employer. Candidates want some reassurance that day to day life at your company is generally good. If you can offer them a positive report, then do.
Your interviewee is also trying to get to know you, which can be a good sign. After all, they’re here to talk about themselves, so pausing and asking you a little about yourself shows off a bit of emotional intelligence.
5. Tell me about opportunities for growth and development in this position.
This question indicates that your applicant is willing to remain loyal to a company that rewards ambitious employees. It can also indicate that this employee won’t be willing to stay in the same role long term, which is a good thing to clarify if there really is no upward mobility in the position.
You should lay out all the facts as best you can for this candidate. If your company encourages employees to travel to seminars and workshops to learn new skills, share that, too. Talk to the candidate about other employees in the same or similar positions. What have their career trajectories looked like? Where are they now?
All of these details can convince a candidate that your company really does take care of their own, making them all the more likely to accept a job offer.
6. Tell me about who I’ll be working with and who I’ll report to.
This question is another extremely important day-to-day inquiry. Your candidate is trying to imagine what a Tuesday in April at your company might look like. Help them out by offering every little detail you can.
Explain to the candidate how their potential department or team functions, who runs it and how it runs. Do make sure to avoid buzzwords that could turn off certain applicants when describing teams, though. Calling a predominantly male department “rowdy,” for example, could signal to a woman that she won’t be accepted by her colleagues.
7. Is there anything that makes you question whether I’m a good fit for this position?
Don’t let this inquiry scare you. After all, the candidate is just showing you how interested they are in the position. Still, you shouldn’t say anything that could come back to bite you. Instead, keep it simple, and let the candidate know what you’re looking for in a new hire. You definitely don’t need to pick apart their resume, their interview skills, or anything else, but this can provide an opportunity to discuss ways that employee might want to grow if they were to be hired.