3 Questions Freakin’ Awesome Candidates Ask

Kathy Rapp Candidate Pool, Employment Branding and Culture, Hiring Managers, Interviewing, Kathy Rapp, Work Life Balance

I read and essentially disagreed with a post over at Recruiter.com about “7 Questions Great Candidates Ask“, so figured I better pony up with some of my favorite questions.  It wasn’t that ALL 7 sucked, but they were predictable,  like “Why did the previous job holder leave?”  And, “job holder”?  Really??!  Who says “job holder”?

I did like #7 – “How do your employees wind down?”, but the suggested response blew. Candidates don’t want to hear about your commitment to work-life balance, because guess what – they won’t (and shouldn’t) believe you.  I’ve said before there’s no such thing as work-life “balance” as balance implies equality.  There can be work-life trade-offs.  Some weeks you kill yourself on a project.  The trade-off being when you need to get to your kid’s basketball game at 4pm you’re court-side by 3:45pm and not checking email.

Here are my 3 and why only freakin’ AWESOME candidates ask these questions:

#1.  Why should I leave a job I love to come over here?  This question says, I’m an extremely passive candidate and you’re going to have to really convince me to even continue in the interview process.  It is also asking for transparency.  What’s the real story about your org and this role?

#2.  What would my priorities be for the first 6-12 months?  Your candidate is intrigued.  He/She is now looking for detail about what their 1st year would look like.  It’s also a question to test if you (hiring manager) have really thought through your priorities and expectations of the role.  You better be able to answer this one – and with more than “I want you to build relationships”.  Duh.

#3.  What do you tell your mom/spouse/best friend about why you love working here  AND  what happened on your worst day here? OK, so yes, this is two questions in one.  It’s also the culture question.  It’s also the real question – the one where the candidate wants to see if you can get out of interview mode and get gritty.  This is where the candidate not only learns about the culture but your style and how you handle the good and the bad.  It’s probing, shows interest and indicates they want to know the cool stuff and the not so cool stuff about your culture.

Interviews generally suck.  You know you’re in an enhanced interview when there is actual dialogue – give and take.

Hiring managers – in order to pull top talent out of their current company you not only have to be prepared to ask compelling questions… but perhaps more importantly assess the types of questions you’re being asked by the candidate and give meaningful answers.

And candidates – if you want to be put in the AWESOME category, you have to step up your game as well.  Think about how many times the interviewer has been asked about “training and development opportunities” by average candidates.  If you’re getting a glazed over look, call it a day and go figure out spicy questions for the next time you’re interviewed.

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the CEO of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or project roles across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.