Interview advice
By Gemma Morris
15th September 2014

‘And now, do you have any questions for me?’ It’s the traditional wrap-up that signals the end of a job interview. As the interviewer, you’ve probably spent a considerable amount of time preparing questions to pose to a potential employee. But are you as prepared for the questions they may ask you? While there’s always a chance something will catch you off guard, we think it’s worth considering some of the most common interview questions from candidates.

Certainly, there will be candidates who are more concerned with asking questions designed to impress you; they’ve probably followed the common advice to research the company and ask questions that will make it obvious they’ve done their homework. But don’t think your answers don’t matter. Serious candidates will be genuinely interested in your answers, and they want – and deserve – to know what it would be like to work for your company.

What will my day-to-day life be like here?

The first level of questioning might relate to the business objectives of the team the candidate is seeking to join, and the details of the tech he or she would be using. To some extent, these are the easiest to answer, as they tend to have very specific answers. Especially if you are interviewing someone for an Information Management role, you’d do well to be conversant in the practices of the department. Examples might include:

  • What software/CRM/data warehouse do you use and to what extent will I be able to choose the software I work with?
  • What is your development environment?
  • Are the information management systems bespoke or off the shelf?
  • What is the vision for the business unit/what does the business want to achieve?
  • How does the business unit fit to the objectives of the company overall?

We recommend familiarising yourself with the day-to-day operational aspects of the team, particularly if you are interviewing in an HR or other capacity. Candidates will appreciate the glimpse into the daily life of the department.

What would a career here be like?

Candidates will be also interested to learn what they can expect as an employee of your company in a larger sense. These questions tend to be focused on HR issues, and can help paint a broader, more long-term picture of what a career with your firm may entail. Questions in this category may include:

  • What would be my career path/opportunities to advance?
  • What training do you offer?
  • How is performance measured and reviewed?
  • What are the factors that drive results for the company?

By accepting a new job, candidates are making an investment in their future. They know that their success and the success of the company are inextricably bound. Make every effort to give them a clear sense of the path you will be on together.

But what’s it really like to work here?

Increasingly, interviewees are asking about company culture – the things they won’t find in a training manual or employee handbook. What these types of interview questions are really getting at is quality of life. As we spend more and more time at work, issues such as work/life balance, job perks, or shared values become ever more important. Being prepared to speak informatively about the intangibles of life at your firm can help give the candidate a fuller sense of what life might be like, should they join you. You may hear questions like:

  • What do you enjoy about working here?
  • How flexible are working hours/is working from home an option?
  • What opportunities are there to find balance in the work day, whether through a gym, recreational or social activities, etc.?
  • What qualities do your top performers or longest-term employees possess?
  • Does the company place more value on harmonious teamwork or individual results?

Finding the right candidate for a role is about more than filling an immediate operational need. Hiring a great employee will bring you higher retention rates, lower training expenditure, better productivity and improved morale. It’s well worth taking the time to fully address any questions or concerns a quality candidate will bring to the interview. With a little preparation, you can boost your chances of finding just the right fit.

We’d love to hear from you. What types of questions do you hear most often in your interviews? What’s the best – or oddest – thing you’ve ever been asked? Please feel free to add your comments here.

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