Landing your dream job isn't always a quick process. Even with the help of dedicated experts like our delivery teams at Electus. With a report suggesting that employers spend as little as 7 seconds looking at each resume that comes across their desk, getting to the interview stage is becoming increasingly more difficult as well.
So what can you do to stand out from the other candidates once you’re finally in front of your potential new boss? Simple. Be the only candidate who has something prepared when the interviewer asks: ‘Do you have any questions for me?’
Why? Because a lot of candidates don't actually care about asking questions or what the answers are if they do. All their energy has gone in to knocking the interview for six. At best any questions will be tailored to demonstrate the depth of their understanding rather than to understand the business they’re potentially going to be working for. To them, what they ask is far more important than the answer.
However, what distinguishes a good candidate from a great candidate, are questions you actually want the answers to because it actively evaluates the company and allows you to assess whether or not you really want to work for them beyond the job spec and the salary. Here are some great questions to ask that really will knock the interview into the crowd.
1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?
Great candidates want to hit the ground running. They don't want to spend weeks or months "getting to know the organization." They want to make a difference right away and learn about the business as they go.
Plus they want a clear indication on how they’ll be evaluated so need to understand objectives and expectations as early possible. Establishing a measure of performance is important, especially if bonuses or commission are involved.
2. What drives results for the company?
A good candidate recognises that they are there to do a job. They have a list of requirements or KPIs or whatever; they understand that they have to hit them to keep their job. For example: a good member of the HR team fills positions. But a great HR person fills positions with the best possible candidates maximising output whilst minimising costs for training and reducing staff turnover.
Great candidates want to know what truly makes a difference for the company. They buy into the brand, the ideology, the work ethic. They know helping the company succeed means they will also succeed, on multiple levels. More over a passionate candidate will integrate far quicker than someone ticking the boxes.
3. What are the common attributes of your top performers?
Great candidates also want to be great long-term employees. Every organization is different, and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations.
Maybe the top performers need to hit targets. Or maybe creativity and innovation is more important than following the status quo. Perhaps landing new customers in new markets is more important than building long-term customer relationships. Or maybe spending the same amount of time educating an entry-level customer is as important as helping an enthusiast who wants high-end solutions.
Whatever the criteria a great candidate wants to know how to be a big hitter because (a) they want to know if they fit the bill and (b) if they do, they want to start with that objective in mind.
4. What do your employees like to do in their spare time?
The best companies have happy employees. They’re happy because they love the work they do, they’re valued, they’re motivated, they’re rewarded and their employer has built a team of personalities that click. Not every interviewer will be able to answer this question. Companies over 50 people tend to lose that family feel unless the company expends time and money to make sure everyone is included.
But a great candidate is already thinking about fitting in, about after work drinks or organising a pool tournament. It’s vital to fit in with the culture.
5. How do you plan to deal with...?
Every business faces challenges. Emerging technologies, slow market penetration, new competitors, unpredictable economies, supply issues. No company is immune from every peril or pitfall no matter how much we’d like to convince ourselves.
Even when a great candidate sees the next move as a stepping stone, they still hope for growth and advancement. If they do eventually leave, they want it to be on their terms and not because you were forced out of business.
They want to know how you plan to tackle a new local competitor. Or the rising cost of raw materials. They don’t want to know what you think but what you plan to do about it and, more importantly, how that will impact on them as a new member of staff.