Spotting top talent through the candidate's interview questions

04.26.2013


Spotting top talent through the candidate's interview questions
Spotting top talent through the candidate's interview questions

During every interview you've ever led, you've most likely handed the reigns over to your candidate at the end of the meeting, during which the interviewee is expected to start asking the questions.

This should be more than mere courtesy on your part – it should be an opportunity for you to further uncover who the candidate is, and if they'll be the best hire. If you turn the floor over to the candidate at the end and there is little curiosity or few questions, it could be an indication the potential employee isn't as committed to the job as you'd like. However, according to Recruiter, when a candidate fires back with a plethora of detailed, relevant questions, it's a good sign. 

These questions are the candidate's way of imagining him or herself inside the office to determine if success and satisfaction lie ahead. So be on the lookout for the following questions, as these typically reflect a strong potential hire. 

What happened to the previous employee?
When candidates ask about the reasons behind a previous employee's departure, they're expecting to learn if  the worker was fired, promoted or quit – a signal that the candidate is interested in the potential duration and expectations of the position.

How you answer this question could make a tremendous impact on the candidate, and if the previous employee was promoted – sell this. Describe how the worker achieved the promotion, how long it took, what was done to warrant it and other aspects that will tell the candidate that employees have a great career path ahead of them at your company. 

Which marks a good segue into the next most important question you'll want to hear as a recruiter: What are my opportunities for training and development?

Career opportunities
According to the Brazen Careerist, when a potential employee asks this question, it typically means the candidate is extremely interested, and has several more questions about the company. With this one question, the candidate wants to know about employee feedback within the company, how often and the manner in which it is given and if it has been effective at developing employees in the past. 

Candidates who ask about career progression suggest they have hard-fast goals for their career, and they'll likely work hard to achieve them. If your company supports and encourages internal promotion and lateral movement, describe this in detail and watch for the candidate's reaction - a sign of delight or interest could mean you've got a potentially great asset to your business sitting in the interview seat. 

And what about company culture?
The most talented candidates will often question what the company culture is like to better get a sense of how well they would fit in. A great candidate knows that to succeed, it will take cooperation with managers and co-workers, and will want to hear an accurate depiction of how your company operates. 

To find the best hire, you'll need to be as honest as possible about what it's like to show up in the office every day. Don't use overly exaggerated superlatives, which could make the candidate question what the culture is really like, and it couldn't hurt to even discuss ways you're trying to change or improve the culture. 

Career experts say asking about company culture is one of the best questions candidates can ask if they're truly thinking about taking a position with the company. Some progressive companies are even writing down lists of their cultural values to help attract the right kind of talent.