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Trading places in job interviews: what questions are candidates asking interviewers?

As the behaviour of candidates slowly evolves, as are their questions in interviews. With a candidate-driven market now come candidate-driven interviews. But what questions are candidates exactly asking interviewers?

Jasper Spanjaart on November 04, 2021 Average reading time: 3 min
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Trading places in job interviews: what questions are candidates asking interviewers?

In front of you is the twelfth candidate you’ve interviewed. How hard can it be to hire one business intelligence analyst? As the interview moves along swimmingly — you come to the conclusion that the candidate in front of you seems a fine match for your company. All that is left is to offer them a good, competitive package. Then you notice two eyes glazing over the sheet of paper in front of them. ‘But how are your mental health plans?’.

‘It’s a candidate’s market out there right now’

It is just one of the many things recruiters will have to grow to expect while interviewing candidates. As the post Covid-19 world hasn’t been particularly kind to organisations requiring huge numbers of new talent — candidates are slowly becoming harder and harder to track down, and convince. “It’s a candidate’s market out there right now”, Jenny Dearborn said on an episode of the HR Happy Hour podcast. “You know, it is hard to find top talent, we are absolutely in a war for talent.”

“The best talent expects a high-touch, high service environment when it comes to being sensitive to workplace mental health issues.”

Dearborn is a data-driven talent leader, and the current Chief People Officer at marketing automation platform provider Klaviyo. “I’m seeing a shift towards employees feeling comfortable talking about subjects like mental health”, she said on the podcast hosted by Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane. “The best talent expects a high-touch, high service environment when it comes to being sensitive to workplace mental health issues. And employers need to know that that’s what the best talent out there is looking for.”

‘People assume compensation is going to be good’

While employees of the past may have waited to ask questions about mental health support after a couple of months in office, that is no longer the case. It is just one of many things recruiters will be on the receiving end of. And interestingly: money isn’t really part of the compensation, Dearborn notes. “I talk to candidates all day long, for all the openings that we have”, she said. “People don’t ask me about compensation, because they just they assume that that’s going to be good.”

“People don’t ask me about compensation, because they just they assume that that’s going to be good.”

A top 10 most frequently asked questions

Jenny Dearborn

Within every part of recruitment, Klaviyo now puts an emphasis on that very flip-side, Dearborn noted. “We internally track the most frequent candidate questions”, she said. “We keep a running a reprioritised top 10 list consisting of the 10 most frequent candidate questions that are given to interviewers. All of our interviewers go through an interviewer certification. And part of our interviewer certification is knowing how to answer the top 10 most frequently asked questions.”

“Part of our interviewer certification is knowing how to answer the top 10 most frequently asked questions.”

So what are candidates asking?

Rather than a money-oriented discussion, Dearborn noted that candidates are after one thing: differentiators. “[It’s about] what really sets apart one company from another company?”, she said. “Tell me about your commitment to corporate social responsibility? Tell me about your commitment to diversity? And how are you holding yourself accountable to achieve your diversity goals? And tell me about your workplace mental health? Those are the three things I hear the most of from candidates asking us questions.”

“Candidates are so empowered to speak their truth and say what they need and demand more from their employers.”

It’s a vastly different world from 15 to 20 years ago, Dearborn concluded. “Think about 15 to 20 years ago, a candidate wouldn’t ask those questions, right?”, she said. “Candidates are so empowered to speak their truth and say what they need and demand more from their employers. And they know that it’s a candidate’s market. I think it’s awesome.”

Listen to the full episode

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Editor-in-Chief and Writer at ToTalent.eu
Editor-in-Chief and writer for European Total Talent Acquisition platform ToTalent.eu.
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