The interview process is a combination of skill and fact checking, combined with character and psychological profiling. While recruiters and human resource professionals are not psychologists, they are highly trained in identifying acuity, strengths and potential personality conflicts when looking to place a professional within a business environment.
It’s important to remember that even the most challenging interview questions are designed to measure key performance areas and skills that will be needed for the job. Often, an interviewer will ask a question that seems “off the wall” and confusing, but the question may be designed to measure stress tolerance, verbal strengths or problem solving skills. As such, candidates should be prepared to answer virtually any question before an interview.
We asked our recruiters for some updated interview questions that they use, and had them explain an acceptable response that would reflect well on the candidate. If you are job seeking, or plan to start looking for a new career opportunity, you can use this list to help improve your confidence for an upcoming interview.
1. What Are Your Minimum Salary Requirements?
This question is a difficult one, and some recruiters and employers prefer not to ask it, as there may be a pre-set salary that is non-negotiable for the position. Interviewees dislike the question, because they feel it implies that they are not interested in earning more than their current salary level.
Response: “My current salary is [insert amount] per year, plus health benefits. But I am currently seeking a new opportunity to increase my opportunities for career and income advancement.”
2. Who Was Your Worst Manager and Why?
The purpose of asking this question is to determine if personality conflicts are a consistent issue with a candidate. It is also a measure of honesty and integrity during an interview. Regardless of your job history, chances are you have had at least one conflict with a manager, and you should be honest about it; but avoid being too negative in your assessment of the situation.
Response: “When I worked for [insert company] I did have a conflict with my manager, but it was unrelated to my performance and more of a personality conflict. I left the position on good terms with my former employer however.”
3. What Would Your Current Employer Have to Offer for You to Stay?
This is how a recruiter determines if you are sincerely committed to finding a new career opportunity, or if you are positioning yourself as a job seeker, to gain leverage with your current employer. Frequently candidates who have been unsuccessful at negotiating a salary will go though the interview process for other jobs, to elicit a favorable response from their employer. An employee who is attempting to do so is a high-risk prospect for placement, as he or she may return to their former employer, if made a counter offer. Be clear about your intentions.
Response: “I know it’s time for me to make a positive change. I am ready for new challenges, and excited about the opportunity to be part of [insert company].”
Questions That Candidates Should Ask the Interviewer or Recruiter
Making a job change and learning to adapt to a new culture, co-workers and expectations is a tremendous uphill climb for all professionals. Just as the employer needs to thoroughly vet all candidates to find the right fit, job seekers should be prepared to ask some strategic questions to ensure that they will be happy in their new role.
Our recruiters encourage interviewees to ask questions, but from entry-level professional to leadership and executive interviews, many candidates mistakenly fear asking “too many” questions during an interview. Rest assured that both employers and recruiters appreciate a candidate who is also cautious about their career decisions; it is a positive professional attribute, and an indication of a potential employee who is ready and willing to make a long-term commitment, to the right company.
Three valuable questions that candidates should ask both the recruiter or the prospective employer are:
1. How Did This Position Become Available?
The answer may be an awkward but honest one. If the position is available because someone moved to another company, they will tell you. If the previous individual was fired, they may simply disclose that the role was vacated and that they began searching for a suitable replacement. Remember that there may be concerns about legal liability, defamation and other obstacles that prevent an employer from divulging personal or health information about a previous employee.
2. How Many People Have Held This Role in The Past Ten Years?
The employer and recruiter may not like the question, but if you are currently employed and sitting on the fence about a career move, this question can prevent jumping from a secure job, to one that has a history of employee burnout. Be prepared for some thoughtful consideration before they answer the question, or if you feel it is too offensive to ask (given the tone of the interview), connect with other employees of the organization via LinkedIn, who may be willing to share the history and challenges of the role with you, in a more candid way.
3. How Will My Performance Be Measured and Evaluated?
While employers and recruiters do an excellent job of reviewing the responsibilities of a prospective position, it is important to know how and when your success in the role will be measured. This is a good question to ask in an interview because it indicates that you are driven to provide measurable results; and that you are open to receiving feedback and tracking the progress of your performance. The answer will also give you an indication of the system in place for salary review and increases, or bonuses on an annual basis.
Remember to ask a few questions during your interview to show an authentic interest in the career opportunity and in the organization. If you have more questions after the interview, you can also email your recruiter or interviewer to follow-up, and request additional information.