Interviewing the interviewer: how to give candidates the right impression

Interviewing the interviewer

From LinkedIn posts to Glassdoor reviews, today’s candidate comes to interviews armed with a wealth of information and a different set of expectations. We asked two of our recruitment experts how hiring managers can make sure they’re prepared.

In today’s talent-short market, the power in the interview room has shifted to the candidate. Additionally, employers are facing a new set of candidate demands as millennial and Gen Z talent focus on company culture and potential to make an impact as well as their salary package and staff perks.

With this new power dynamic, hiring managers are increasingly finding themselves being ‘interviewed’ by candidates. Our experts explain how to make the most of this process to find the best talent for your business.

Consider what the candidate wants to know

Recruitment starts long before the candidate enters the interview room. In the past, people would apply to job advertisements in the paper with very little, if any, information on the company or the role. This is not the case today.

Internet and social media make it very easy for candidates to familiarise themselves with your company background, services and employees before they apply for a role. Your company’s online image has a huge impact on expectations when entering the interview process and can easily give the candidate the upper hand if a hiring manager arrives ill-prepared.

Omer Zakaria, manager at Robert Walters Middle East, advises that a lack of preparation is the biggest downfall for a hiring manager: “People will do their research. They will be very aware of the business you do and even, to an extent, the type of company culture you have and the hiring manager has to be ready for that.”

“Checking things like your company’s Glassdoor reviews and comments on recent social media posts and online articles can help you gauge how your company is perceived online,” advises Omer. “This will give you an opportunity to highlight the good and prepare to address any potential negatives without being caught off guard.”

Anticipate the candidate’s expectations

Candidates are most likely to ask questions around their prospective career path rather than about the company itself. They want to know about the company culture, opportunities for growth and any training on offer.”

Jonathan Berry, senior manager legal at Robert Walters Middle East, believes development and impact is what candidates most value in today’s landscape: “What is the impact in my role? What am I contributing to and who am I affecting with my work? What skills do I need to become successful? These are the questions today’s candidates want answered and what hiring managers should prepare for.”

Jonathan advises that hiring managers ensure they’re familiar with the job description and are able to offer extra details around it, including details on progression and income. “Take the time to speak to your HR team or manager to find the relevant company information the candidate may need to know.”

Candidates may also ask more personal questions of the hiring manager, such as what their route has been through the company, where they came from and where they see themselves ending up. This can be intimidating from a hiring manager’s perspective, with the candidate taking on the role of an interviewer more than an interviewee.

“Talk to recruitment companies about common questions candidates ask and prepare truthful answers,” recommends Jonathan. “Offering that authentic touch can really help hiring managers to build a good relationship with a candidate and ensure that they leave the interview with a positive perception of your company.” 

Ask the right questions

When a candidate comes to interview, they expect the hiring manager to be well aquainted with their CV. Asking questions around the CV is the best way to encourage a candidate to open up and reveal their passion for the role they are applying for.

Personal questions are another important part of the interview process. Yes-no questions should also be avoided in favour of scenario questions that get the candidate to think outside their comfort zone and reveal to the hiring manager how they might respond to situtations within their new role.

“The hiring manager must be genuinely interested,” warns Jonathan. “You can’t just ask questions based around the CV, the candidate will sniff you out. Don’t just ask ‘what’ questions. Ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Prepare to give a good impression, make a connection and allow time for the candidate to ask questions. It can’t just be a one-way interview.”

Omer agrees, adding, “Make the candidate feel like you have a geniuine interest in what they could bring to the company. Ask thoughtful and insightful questions based on strengths and gaps in their CV and skillset. You need to make them feel like this is a role that offers the opportunity to grow and make a real impact.”

Stay in control

Something has gone very wrong if the hiring manager feels unable to regain control of an interview. However, a good way to prevent this from happening is to set out the agenda early.

Provide your candidate with a brief outline of what you intend to cover, making clear that they will have a chance to ask their questions at the end. This will enable you to clearly set the power balance from the start. 

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