10 Questions to Ask Candidates About the Interview

Maintaining beneficial relationships with hiring managers improves the chances of making a quality hire and creates an open arena for shared knowledge and effective teamwork. When it comes to closing the deal, the candidate’s opinion of the interview process could be the deal-killer.

After a scheduled interview with a potential employer, it’s best for recruiters to get the candidate’s feedback within one hour. This gives us information fresh on the candidate’s mind and a chance to clarify any misconceptions they may have developed during the process. Misconceptions can lead to deal-killers if given time to settle in.

Using a standardized interview feedback form, you can get immediate, meaningful feedback that helps clarify your candidate’s interest after each interview and learn more about the position, hiring manager, and the company.

A feedback form can be tailored to fit your needs, but some basic questions to ask the candidate should include the following 10 approaches:

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  1. How long were you there?
  2. With whom did you meet?
  3. What did you learn about the opportunity?
  4. What did you like most about the position?
  5. What did you like least about the position?
  6. If they came back and made you an offer, would you accept it?
  7. Did you discuss a compensation plan?
  8. How did they leave you after the interview?
  9. Any comments, questions, or concerns?
  10. Remind the candidate to make a follow-up call and email.

The next (and most important) step is to “Feed it Forward.” This is the practice of getting in touch with hiring managers after each candidate’s interview steps and providing them with critical insight about the candidate’s overall experience. Because a hiring manager often uses hiring staff to conduct interviews, they don’t always get to hear a candidate’s opinion of the process.

The Process at Work

The “Feed it Forward” process accomplishes the following steps:

  • Provides the hiring managers with insight about the interview experience from the candidate’s point of view. Good feedback can reinforce the steps the interviewer is doing to impress candidates, and negative feedback can determine which adjustments to the interviewing style and behaviors need to be changed. Interviewers, for example, might take more time to carefully plan for the next interview if a recruiter tells them that a candidate thought the interviewer was unprepared, which can be a turnoff. Also, candidate feedback will help managers understand how well their interviewers are doing in terms of “selling” candidates. Quality feedback will allow them to locate breakdowns in their process, which carelessly lead to withdrawal or rejection of quality talent.
  • Gives insight into candidate’s interest. It also gives the hiring manager an idea of a candidate’s interest in the position, helping to close the deal or determine the roadblock to a decision.
  • Provides clarity. If we “Feed it Forward” that the candidate was not overly excited about the interview, it can help the hiring managers decide whether to end the process or try harder to impress the candidate. Either way, you’ll get action.
  • Begins the closing process. Once we “Feed it Forward” that a candidate was really impressed and wants the job, it “warms up” the hiring managers toward closure. Hiring managers often favor candidates who want the job, rather than ones who come across aloof or show only a mild interest.
  • Motivates the interviewer to provide their feedback. As recruiters, we wait days on end for feedback from an interviewer! One sure way to get them to connect with us sooner is to tell them you want to share feedback from the candidate. This technique almost always motivates them to get back to you sooner. Interviewers usually want to know what the candidate thought of them.

For these reasons, among others, the “Feed it Forward” process serves a role in getting a commitment between the two parties. As we all know, time kills all deals, and using the “Feed it Forward” approach to motivate an interviewer to connect with you is, by far, the most beneficial.

Scott Beardsley (scott.beardsley@q4b.com) is co-founder and vice president of recruitment services at Q4B, a recruitment solutions and consulting firm specializing in recruitment process outsourcing. He developed the processes behind Q4B's recruitment solutions. He has 16 years of experience and is an author, speaker, and consultant.

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6 Comments on “10 Questions to Ask Candidates About the Interview

  1. Scott,

    I have been using a similar form of debriefing candidates for most of my career. In fact, when prepping a candidate for an interview with a client, I always make sure to instruct them to give me a call after the interview is over so I can get their feedback. I let them know that I need to hear from them before I follow-up with the hiring manager so that I am prepared for anything he might say. Speaking with the candidate allows me to fill in any information gap I might have about the client’s interview process. Also, if there have been any changes to the job requirement that have not been passed on to me, that information often comes out in the interview.
    On the candidate side, it allows me to pre-close a candidate and find out what else they have in their pipeline. As you mentioned, it will also give me a chance to address any negative impressions created during the interview process. Lastly, the candidate’s diligence in reporting back to me is a great measure of his interest and what I should expect from him going forward.
    I thought this article was well written, and I have shared it with my colleagues. Thanks

    Derek Brightman
    212-687-4050 x 350

  2. Too often, our industry’s ‘professionals’ tend to undermine the importance of closing the candidate. In fact, if we’re doing our job as recruiters and submitting the right candidates in the first place, more choices lie with the candidates than with our clients. Once we close our candidates we then know our action.

  3. There was one question missing that I believe is crucial and that question is ‘from what you know of this opportunity how does it compare to your current role and other opportunities you are considering?’

    You may receive extremely positive answers to all 10 of the questions that Scott suggests but if there is another opportunity that the candidate likes better then you’ve got some work to do! In other words, it is the candidate’s RELATIVE interest not ABSOLUTE interest in the position, that is the most critical information for the recruiter to know before the next step is taken.

  4. In my agency days (am corp now), it was absolute protocol to meet a candidate in person for 30 to 45 minutes prior to a client interview – review the position, discuss the interviewer(s) background and company details, as well as doing trial closes and deep dives for red-flags.
    Often times, we sat in interviews (as passive listeners), which allowed us to easily meet one on one with the candidate after the interview to get real time feedback and chart next steps. May seem like overkill (a 2 to 3 hour investment on both the recruiter and candidate’s part), but made for maximal ‘candidate control’ and stood us out from our competitors when it came to customer service and perceived knowledge and caring. Clients appreciated it, too, allowing up to bill 5 to 10 points above our competitor’s rates. Our placements stuck.

    Cheers,
    Sean

  5. Scott- great information. Well done. Very useful. Thanks. I had never heard of ‘feed it forward’, but it makes sense. What a great team building/coaching tool in today’s candidate driven market where busy Hiring Mgrs are more focused on fighting the hourly/daily front line operational battles instead of using/improving soft interviewing (garrison) skills using deep talent management enhancing interviewing skills; listening, probing, influencing, involvement and time. An organization that ?feeds it forward? must be very progressive and very successful at integrating and installing a talent management program/strategy. Bravo to that company.

    Ross: Great additional $1000 question: ?how does this compare to other opportunities considering??
    As a current job seeker myself (my profession is recruiter/sourcing and I am taking detailed notes of my experiences on the other side of the fence) knee deep interviews I am amazed that so many interviewers fail to ask candidates your question, which shows their lack of understanding of today?s candidate driven market place where the talented always keeps an additional option card in the works. It?s the unprepared interviewer who ?thinks? he/she has the upper hand on dealing with the new talented active/passive job seeker. What a waste of time when an interviewer leaves an interview and goes back into consultation without knowing if the candidate is considering other options and what it would take to secure the candidate if chosen. This kind of ?arrogant? interviewer must have a sales ratio through the roof ? all the result of not asking a key question and that today?s talented candidates have options and an interview is a two way street. Great posting. Thanks

  6. Ask these questions and you should minimize surprises for you and the hiring manger.

    Keith Halperin

    …………………………………….

    NOTES

    1) Are you able to work fulltime in the United States without sponsorship?

    2) What is your availability for (what days/times can you have a):

    Phone interview

    Face-to-face interview

    Start Date

    3) Where are you in your career search (starting, interviews, offers)?

    If you have an offer(s), how soon do you need to notify the offering company(es) of your decision?

    What are the terms of your offer(s)?

    4) Why are you looking for new career opportunities?

    5) What kind of compensation do you have? What kind of compensation do you want?

    Salary: $

    Bonus: $

    Stock Options

    6) How much vacation do you currently receive?

    7) How far (miles/minutes) are you willing to commute to work?

    What percentage of time are you able to travel outside the area?

    8) What do/did you do in work on a day-to-day basis?

    9) What are your strengths?

    10) What is your supervisory background (if any)- How many people have you supervised at any one time?

    11) What are your weaknesses or areas of development?

    12) What do you like/want in your work- what would an ideal job description be for you?

    13) What do you NOT like/want in your work?

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