As you’re interviewing job candidates, you expect to ask most of the questions, but what do you do when your job candidate asks you a question? More importantly, what do you do when you can’t exactly answer that question?
Some interviewers feel thrown off when employees ask questions, and sometimes they even dread it. Though some questions you anticipate your candidate will ask, some are completely random, and if you don’t have a good answer, it may reflect poorly on your company.
When a job candidate lobs a question your way, what do you do? Here is what to do if a job candidate asks you questions and how to answer some common questions that many interviewers receive.
Before you say anything, listen very closely to determine exactly what your candidate is asking about. Try not to add any implications or influences on the actual question at hand. It distracts you from listening to what is actually being asked.
Many questions get misconstrued at this step, so clear your mind and just listen to the question. You’ll be better apt to answer the correct question, and you’ll be able to give a more complete answer overall.
Repeat the Question
Have you ever asked someone a question and gotten an answer to a question that you didn’t ask? This can make for a confusing interview, so when answering a question, say it back to them before you offer an answer.
When you start answering the question, rephrase the question back to the candidate and ask if that’s what they want to know. This shows that not only were you listening carefully, but you have also clarified exactly what your candidate truly wants to know so you can be sure you’re giving information that is both relevant and useful.
This is also a great way to clarify what the candidate is actually asking without having him or her repeat the question multiple times.
When you’re interviewing job candidates, it’s never a good idea to lie. Lies have a way of coming back to bite you later, and when they do bite, they can be extremely painful.
If your candidate does get hired, then you can almost guarantee that he or she will find out the truth later on. After the employee finds out your answer was a lie, there’s a better chance that he or she may lose trust in the company and start looking for another job. If the job was already not working out for the candidate, he or she may just decide to give up rather than try to do better.
Admit When You Don’t Know
Instead of lying to a candidate about the question, it’s better if you admit you’re not sure and would need to ask someone for the answer. Most candidates don’t expect you to have all the answers, and they’ll more than likely be understanding and forgiving if you don’t have the perfect answer to every question.
Promise to get the answer from another colleague and then email the candidate after the interview, follow through and get the right information. You should have the candidate’s email address on file so pass along the answer. This is a great way to keep in contact with employees and remind yourself why you liked a certain candidate so much.
Common, but Tough Interviewee Questions
A good candidate knows that asking questions shows initiative as well as interest so you can almost always guarantee that most of your job candidates will ask you several questions throughout the interview process. Remember, the interview itself should be 80 percent of the candidate speaking and 20 percent of you speaking, so stop frequently during your interview and allow for questions.
Here are some of the more common yet tough questions you might hear and how you should answer them.
What do you like about working here?
Be honest and pick one aspect of the company that you love. Focus on the friendships you’ve made with your colleagues or some of the great perks the company offers, such as work-from-home days. Never be negative.
What happened to the previous person who had this job?
If the answer isn’t something easy (“He/she got promoted”), then gently infer that the previous person got a new job. Knowing that the previous person quit because of company differences can scare away some candidates, so make sure you emphasise how long the person was with the company to show that they were committed but simply wanted to move on.
Is there anything negative about the company I should know about?
Bad mouthing the company in front of a candidate looks bad on you and the company, but it is a legitimate question. Rather than focusing on the negative, look at the positive. Tell your candidate that any problems you’ve had were solved quickly and efficiently. This shows that upper management cares about employees so candidates will feel satisfied knowing that if problems do arise, they are quickly taken care of.
Who will I be reporting to? What is he/she like?
If you don’t work with the department supervisor often, feel free to say so. Make sure you add that in the few interactions you have had with him or her, they have been positive. If you do know the supervisor well, pick out two positive qualities. Never say anything negative about that supervisor.
How many candidates are up for this position?
With this question, honesty is the best policy. It’s okay to admit that you have several other candidates to interview, but you don’t have to go into detail about them or the candidate’s standing among them. Tell them how many candidates are interviewing, who will be making the final decisions and when the candidate can expect to hear back.
When job candidates ask questions, take this as an overall sign that they’re interested in the work and are hopeful that they get the job. Don’t dread their questions, and remember to frequently ask them if they do have questions as you explain workflows and chains of command. If you’re always honest with your answers, your candidates will feel positive about their interviewing experience overall.