How to Answer 8 Common Candidate Interview Questions

Candidate Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Imagine you’ve poured your heart and soul into securing an interview with an incredible candidate. They’ve rightly done their research into your organisation and ask a great question that no-one is able to answer. All that great work can unravel in an instant. So how can you be prepared to face some of the more challenging questions from candidates?

I’m sure you have been hearing these words over and over again. In a candidate’s market, not only is it more challenging to find suitable candidates, but it’s also harder to convince them to join you. The job interview is one of the best chances that you will get to understand the candidate, but it’s also a chance for them to assess the organisation and decide if you’re right for them. Therefore, you should be prepared to answer any interview questions a candidate may ask. 

Normally, it’s the hiring manager’s job to ask the questions in an interview. However, top candidates will also be curious about the organisation, its people, culture, and more. When conducting interviews, you should know how to answer some of the tougher, on-the-spot questions to reassure candidates, accurately reflect your employer brand, and get them over the line. 

8 Candidate Interview Questions to Prepare for as a Hiring Manager

Here are some of the more challenging questions that an astute candidate may ask during an interview, and how to answer them:

1. What is the history of this position?

Candidates will be interested in knowing the circumstances surrounding the job opening. And you should be prepared with that information. Was someone laid off or moving to another organisation? Is it a new position being created? Helping the candidate to understand the situation gives them insight into the organisation’s turnover rate, general trajectory, and growth opportunities. 

Whatever the case, highlight the positive aspects and opportunities. There are always upsides after all. For example, for a new position being created, they can make the role their own. For filling a vacated seat, they’ve got plenty of past knowledge and processes to draw from.

2. What does success look like in this role?

Candidates asking about specific performance expectations are usually trying to understand the expectations and culture of your organisation. It also gives them insight into the difficulty of the role, and the organisation’s general culture. 

Highlight the organisation’s expectations, work philosophy, and priorities to help your candidate gauge their suitability. Try to explain what a successful applicant would look like in concrete terms. If there is a similar role in which another team member has succeeded, use their achievements as a framework. You should also provide some insight into how the candidate could achieve this success, helping them envision themselves thriving in the position.

3. How would you measure success?

Different teams conduct performance reviews differently, at different times and with varying levels of formality. It can come down to company size, organisational structure, and the resources available.

If a candidate asks, you should always be honest about the organisation’s formal process of reviewing performance. How often, what format, with whom, and so on. Highlight the value your organisation gets from performance reviews, and how to make the most of them. 

4. What can I do in order to get up to speed quickly?

Sometimes, getting familiarised with the organisation’s procedures and tech stack is the hardest part of the onboarding process. Other times, it’s understanding the network and internal structures. A candidate who asks this question wants to hit the ground running, and that’s never a bad thing.

To help them, you could draw upon your own experience when first starting at the organisation. Otherwise, you could consider asking some successful hires about how they managed. Any guidance that you can pass on to the candidate will help, and demonstrates the supportive environment of your organisation. 

5. What opportunities will I have to learn and grow?

One of the key reasons that many employees leave an organisation is a lack of developmental opportunities and upward mobility. If you’ve got these at your organisation, share them. You could use any recently promoted team members as an example of this. 

Even if your organisation doesn’t have many progression pathways, at least let the candidate know. If that’s ok with them, great. If not, you’ve probably saved the company a costly turnover a few years down the track. 

6. What are the main challenges your organisation is currently facing and how are you responding?

In this market, one of the top priorities for applicants is job security. Candidates need to feel confident that your organisation is resilient and adaptable to changing times.

Acknowledge any difficulties the organisation is facing, and how you’re tackling them. There will always be some challenges, candidates want to know how the organisation reacts, and to get a gauge of its steadiness. 

7. How would you describe the organisational culture?

Organisational culture is one of the most important factors that a candidate will consider before taking a job. Having a values-driven focus, offering fair expectations, recognition and rewards programs, a strong work-life balance, support, and flexibility can all help your organisation stand out. 

Being honest in your answer to this question is crucial, as a misalignment between expectations and reality can lead to disappointment and a high turnover rate. By prioritizing these factors, your organization can create a positive and inclusive work environment that attracts and retains top talent.

8. How would you describe the management style?

This question ties into culture, but also indicates to your candidate the strength of leadership at the organisation. 

While there are many styles of management, there are also good principles of management to keep in mind when you describe the line manager’s style to a job candidate. You should be honest about this, as a misrepresented manager could lead to avoidable clashes in the future. You can also speak to people working under the manager, or talk about the style of management the organisation tends to promote. 

Final thoughts

The interview is just as much a time for candidates to assess you as it is for you to assess them. Good candidates will be interested and engaged, and may have some questions of their own for you. It’s important to be prepared for some of the trickier questions, like the ones we’ve highlighted in this article.

The important thing is to not misrepresent the organisation or role, as you’d be doing everyone a disservice in the long run. Be informed, and help the candidate see what a wonderful place they would be working at!

On TalentVine, we provide our employers with a list of relevant role information that they should share with their chosen recruiter. It’s also a valuable resource for any hiring manager stepping into an interview to know. 

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