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Preparing Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

When you interview a candidate, they’re interviewing you, too

Unemployment is currently very low — under 4%.1 It’s a candidate’s market. That means job seekers can be very choosy about the positions they accept.

How you prepare for the interview and the questions you ask have a huge impact on how quality applicants perceive your company. Your interview process will make or break your candidate experience.

Here are some tips:

Treat the candidate like a customer

We love the recommendation to “treat the candidate like a customer,” which comes from Candice McGlen of The Rinker Group. Thinking of a candidate like customer is a great mindset to guide the questions you decide to ask.

From Candice: “If a candidate doesn’t feel good about how they’re engaged during the hiring process, then they may lose interest or enthusiasm about the opportunity. It just takes a little courtesy, preparation, care and punctuality to create a good experience.”2 So how do you create that good experience?

Interview Preparation: Asking the Right Questions

Just like you expect a candidate to know about your company, you should gain insight about an applicant as well. Whether you’re conducting a phone interview or an in-person interview, you must make sure you have reviewed the candidate’s resume beforehand. Rather than having a candidate explain their entire career history — which is the purpose of the resume — read between the lines.

Ask questions about their specific skills and experience:

  • Ask for more information about their experience with a particular task mentioned on their resume that position requires
  • Ask about their experience using a software they mentioned on their resume that is relevant to the role

Ask them about their problem solving skills:

  • Ask them about their experience working with different types of customers or clients in their various roles
  • Ask then how they would help various customers. Examples: a customer who doesn’t know what their needs are, an angry customer, etc

Ask questions that evaluate culture fit:

  • Ask about how they react when they have a disagreement with a coworker
  • Ask which of your company’s values resonate with them the most
  • Ask them about their ideal work environment

Other questions to ask:

  • Ask them about their favorite management style
  • Ask them about whether they prefire a routine or day-to-day changes
  • Ask them how an employer or manager would describe them

Being prepared extends to others who will be in the interview as well. If two or more people will be conducting an interview, help them prepare. Consider sharing a candidate’s resume, screening responses, and assessment scores so that other interviewers will ask relevant questions too.

Be active and engaged

A CareerPlug employee recounted a past job interview in which the interviewer spent the whole time texting. She remembered the interview years later, but for all the wrong reasons. It is important to give the candidate your full attention and show genuine excitement. When you bring your best to an interview, the candidate will too.

Follow up with the candidate

When you decide you aren’t going to hire a candidate, the best thing to do is let them know as soon as possible. With CareerPlug, you can send a rejection letter with just a few clicks. CareerPlug even lets you schedule a rejection email to be sent in the future.

When a candidate knows where they stand, they’ll perceive your company positively even when they aren’t selected for the job. Leaving a rejected candidate feeling respected and informed benefits your company in many ways. You may hope to hire the candidate in the future or they might tout your brand to their networks.

Your number one hiring objective is quickly hiring the most qualified applicant. Your number one client objective is likely very different. When you treat your candidates with the same care as you would a customer, you’re setting yourself up for success.




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