The Job Interview: Candidates Are Also Interviewing You

Sean Ahern
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If you’ve ever seen Monty Python and The Holy Grail, you may recall a scene in which an old man (referred to as the “bridgekeeper”) requires the knights of the round table to correctly answer three questions before crossing his mysterious bridge. However, the bridgekeeper ended being questioned himself, answered incorrectly, and was justly propelled off of the bridge.

What we learn from this scene is that the interviewer needs to be prepared for the candidate to interview them as well. As an interviewer you’ll need to know every detail of your company and its current operations in order to convince the best talent to choose you as an employer, since the ones asking you difficult questions are probably doing so because they realize their value. Let’s look at some ways in which the interviewer becomes the interviewee, and how to avoid being propelled over the bridge.

Before the interview even begins, your candidates will most likely already be ‘interviewing’ you and the company just by simply looking around the room. They will observe the people in the office, their expressions, the furniture, the noise, the amenities, etc. In doing so, they create a vague picture of the office culture. Their opinion of the culture can then either be strengthened or weakened throughout the interview. Your attitude and mood can also affect their opinion of the culture. Just tell everyone to be smiling on interview days.

Just as you have preliminarily reviewed their resumes, most candidates perform preliminary research on your company. Some do this in order to impress you, others do it because they are weighing multiple options and want to know every detail of each of their possibilities. You’ll need to be prepared to answer a wide range of questions, including the history of the company from its inception to the present day. Make sure that all of your information is consistent with that of your website and other online resources, to avoid confusing your candidates.

Candidates will also ask about the onboarding process. They’ll want to know how long the training will be, who will be training them, what software they’ll need to learn, etc. You’ll need to know every detail of the position so that the candidate can have a clear picture of what is expected of them. Additionally, you may also be asked what current projects are being worked on or what the company is currently trying to achieve. It would be helpful to have a work-in- progress list for reference.

A candidate may ask some questions about you personally as well. (Remember, you’re acting as a representative of the company, so at least act happy in this situation.) Be prepared to answer questions such as “what’s your favorite aspect of working here?”, “why did you choose to work here?”, and “what company values do you support the most?” These questions normally come at the end of the interview, so they’re a great way to steer the candidate in your direction at the last minute.


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