Many students raising their hands in classJob interviews are a two-way process where, of course, you as employers want to question candidates to find out how suitable they are for the job. But, increasingly, a large part of interviews should be about candidates questioning you about the job and company. I know what you are thinking, “Hang on a minute, I’m the boss here and I should be conducting the interrogation.” And you still can do this even while taking questions, because the questions that a candidate asks will reveal lots of information about the candidate’s knowledge, motivation and priorities; so, this also represents another, slightly more stealthy opportunity to assess candidates when their guard might be down.

So, below I have outlined eight questions, (four will appear below and four will appear in part 2 of this article), that candidates should be asking you and how to interpret them if they do and don’t ask them. These are in no specific order, candidates don’t need to ask every question, and they might not be worded in this exact way but the gist may be similar.

1. What are the key objectives for the team and company over the next 12 months?

This indicates that candidates have a team player orientation as they want to be inspired by the group vision, understand the bigger picture and what the entire team needs to do to achieve success. Someone who was focused more on his or herself might not show as much genuine concern for the team effort.

2. What are the key priorities for the job incumbent?  

This follows on from the previous question and is an excellent corollary question because it shows that the person is not only team orientated but also has a focus on individual contribution and personal effectiveness within a team.

3. What aspects of this job are most challenging and sometimes keep you up at night?

This is a brave question for candidates to ask as they are asking for a realistic job preview of both the good and the bad bits. It might make you feel uncomfortable, but it’s a good question as studies show that candidates who have a realistic view of both the good and bad parts of a job before joining are more engaged and satisfied. It’s a brave and wise candidate who asks this question, and for this question to be effective you need to answer it with some degree of honesty, but with balance.

4. Can you outline the career progression opportunities within the business?

I have seen many employers baulk at this question, regarding it as a sign that the candidate is not really satisfied with the job on offer. I think this is a cynical view as most employees want to join a company where there is a career progression and it’s one of the main reasons that employees leave. Asking this question shows that you have a motivated and healthily ambitious employee who wants to go into this position with his/her eyes open and being fully conscious of the career possibilities. This kind of employee is likely to be more engaged and loyal to your business.

As you stay tuned for part two of this article, I’d like to know of any questions that you believe are an indicator of a great candidate in the meantime. Share your interview questions in the comments section below.

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