The interview has gone smoothly, and as the hiring manager, you’ve asked the right questions to assess the candidates’ abilities and experience. You’ve been in complete control the entire time, but now, as the interview comes to end, it’s time for the candidate to assess you. What many hiring managers forget is that the interview is as much an assessment of you and your organisation as it is about the candidate. While you’ll be wanting to identify whether they’d be a good fit for the role, they’ll be assessing whether your organisation is a good fit for them. They’ll be coming to the interview prepped with a list of questions to determine whether they actually want to work for you.
For this reason, it can leave many hiring managers feeling unsettled and anxious not to scare off exceptional talent. As the hiring manager, it’s your job to identify and engage top talent. To fill the role, you want the best of the best. Imagine how stumped you would feel if you choose the perfect candidate, but they reject your offer because your answers to their questions put them off. If you’re reading this, you may be wondering how and what do you prepare for their questions?
Why should job seekers be allowed to ask questions during an interview?
Allocating time at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask questions is the polite and morally right thing to do. It’s now just become standard procedure in most interviews to offer up the floor to the candidate. In fact, the candidate walks into the interview knowing that they’ll be able to ask their questions.
- Questions demonstrate their interest: If you want a motivated, proactive individual to do the job, then you won’t find that in a candidate who shows no interest in what they’ll be doing or who they’ll be working with. Candidates that don’t ask any questions only prove that they want a job with a higher salary than what they’re currently on. Whereas a candidate that asks questions demonstrates they’re seeking a career, i.e. they want to progress with your organisation and are in it for the long haul. It’s a red flag if candidates don’t have any questions to ask about the role or the organisation.
- You can assess for cultural fit: A combination of their answers to your questions, and their own questions can determine whether they’ll be a good cultural fit and whether their values align with your organisations.
Here’s a guide to assist you for when the roles are reversed and you’re put on the hot seat:
1. Practice your pitch
What’s the worst come scenario? Well, if candidates aren’t convinced that they want to work for you, they might end up rejecting your job offer. Your answers to their questions could cause top-talent to slip through your fingers. This makes selling your organisation from the get-go vital. Typically, you will have a pitch you use at the beginning of the interview to introduce yourself and your organisation. Prepare to revisit the points made in your pitch once the candidate starts to ask questions.
Make sure that your answers to their questions include insight on:
- Your organisation’s mission
- What your organisation does to keep its employees engaged and motivated
- What challenges they might be expected to face and how they’ll be supported
- How that specific position contributes to the organisation’s overall success
Listen closely to the candidate’s answers to your questions, and adjust yours to reflect what they’re looking for in a job.
2. Research your organisation
You may have worked for your organisation for several years and feel like you know everything there is to it; as you’ve progressed through the ranks, you’ve witnessed your organisation transform and grow. However, you don’t want to be caught out or left tongue-tied.
If the candidate has done their research, they will only ask questions that they couldn’t find the answer to on your organisation’s website. When was the last time you read the copy on your website, from front to back? It might be worth checking whether anything is missing. When was the last time it was updated? Can you offer additional insight that the website doesn’t?
3. Research the most common questions
Candidates are used to playing the role of the interviewee, rather than the interviewer. This means that they will probably conduct a Google search prior to the interview about what questions they should be asking. Identify a list of common questions that candidates will be most likely to draw from, and brush up on your answers. Practice makes perfect.
Below is a list of 6 common questions to expect and prepare yourself for:
#1: What would you expect from me in my first month, 6 months, and a year from now?
Tell the candidate your projected trajectory of their future career with the organisation. It’s important that you give them in-depth guidance and insight to keep them motivated and working towards something. If the role has been created just to alleviate an immediate problem, this may leave the candidate questioning their long-term job security and turning the offer down. You should set small, attainable goals to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed. Although you want to sell the position, you also want to make it sound achievable.
#2: Why is this position important to the growth of the organisation?
Ambitious candidates want to know whether they’ll be able to add some real value and play an important role in the organisation. They’re not content to do just the bare minimum and have no real impact with their work. This question is additionally asking whether this is a new role that’s been created or will the candidate replace a long-serving staff member. Here, the candidate wants to determine whether they’ll be able to add value to your organisation. If the role is to replace a staff member, they’re also likely sussing out the success of their predecessor and whether they can make any significant improvements. If it’s a new role, this will be attractive to visionary leaders with innovative mindsets.
#3: What is your favourite part about working here?
Hearing firsthand experiences from an employee about the organisation is extremely valuable and helps to make the candidates decision even easier. They will be curious about hearing your own experience and what you’re currently working on. You should be honest and include details about your favourite parts of the working day, whether that’s the delicious canteen food or the freedom and encouragement to express their opinions in team meetings etc. Although you’re unlikely to outright complain and express dissatisfaction with the organisation, the candidate will be absorbing your every word.
#4: What are some of the biggest challenges or problems facing this department currently?
Don’t be tempted to gloss over the problems; honesty is always the best policy. You’re looking for a business-critical hire for a reason; for them to solve a crucial problem. They need to be aware of the situation from the get-go as this will allow them to come in on their first day prepared with some fresh ideas. These problems could be anything from budget constraints to communication issues, but lay them out for the candidate to hear.
#5: What are the next steps in the hiring process?
What candidates are hoping to decipher with this common question is when they’ll next hear from you. Talk them through your hiring process; tell them whether you need to consult with the other hiring managers and when you’ll expect to have made your decision by. Let them know whether you’ll get in touch with them if they’ve been unsuccessful or only if they’ve been successful. Will there be a second interview? Will there be an assessment? Come to the interview prepared with the key dates of the hiring process in mind.
#6: What will it be like working for you?
This question is testing your leadership style. As the hiring manager, it’s assumed that they’ll be working under you or at least with you regularly. Are you controlling? Are you a micromanager? Will you let them crack on with their work with freedom and autonomy? Will you support and develop them? How? Be honest and open up about what it will be like to work with you. If you’re unsure of what to say, consult members of your team beforehand to hear what they think.
During the interview, you may find that the candidate asks some questions that you don’t quite know how to answer. It’s important to remain calm and not to panic. Explain that you’re unsure of the answer, but let them know the contact details of your colleague who may have more insight. Alternatively, follow up with a phone call later that day after you’ve proactively identified the correct information. Dodging questions will cause a bad candidate experience – not to mention, disinterest in the role, which could even lead to a rejection of a job offer from the candidate.
For more hiring advice tailored to hiring managers in the life science industry…
- Read Post-Interview Etiquette: A Guide For Senior Managers And Executives In The Life Sciences.
- View our talent solutions to see how we can help you gain a competitive edge through talent.
* Fraser Dove International is a talent consultancy operating exclusively across the life sciences industry. While our roots lie in executive search, we provide more than the traditional recruitment services. Uniquely placed within the market, we have been providing cutting-edge talent solutions and insight to organisations at all stages of their journey – from start-up to established leaders – since 2013.