Typically in an interview, the interviewer does most of the question-asking. As any good interviewer knows, it’s important to allow a candidate to ask their own questions, usually at the close of an interview, as this can show genuine interest and thoughts a candidate has about a job. In fact, if a candidate does not have any questions during or after an interview, this is often a red flag and is something to be taken into consideration.
The types of questions candidates ask can offer unique insight into the kind of interests, motives, and general thoughts about the job a candidate has.
“Me” Centered Questions
Me-centered questions reflect a candidate’s own self-interest and have little to do with the actual job or performance objectives of the position. They are self-focused, self-serving, and revolve around what’s in it for the candidate. These types of questions have to do with vacation time, benefits like paid time off or bonuses, and other perks that aren’t really related to the position or opportunity presented.
While these are important factors that many good quality candidates will be interested in as well, it is definitely a red flag when candidates only ask questions like this. They show no original thought or concern about what they are going to be doing and instead look at the opportunity from a “what’s in it for me” perspective.
While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with wanting perks on the job, these types of candidates are more likely to leave positions when offered more money or benefits.
“You” Centered Questions
You-centered questions include any inquiries about the position, its objectives, the company, growth within the role, or other similar ancillary questions related to the above. Good questions that candidates ask will be focused on how their performance is measured within the role, what the candidate can do for the company, and how their contributions will affect the company’s overall productivity.
Further, candidates who ask good questions will want to know about the company itself, including its goals, values, and most importantly, its mission and future plans. It is a good indication when candidates inquire about the future of a company as it signifies they are interested in long-term opportunities and have interest in the future success of the company.
Clarifying questions often piggy-back off of ‘you-centered’ questions and are used to clarify expectations or specific tasks associated with a role. Clarifying questions can be used by the interviewer to draw out a candidate’s response as well as by the candidate to clarify job duties or company expectations.
Follow-up or clarifying questions are extremely important in an interview as they uncover vaguely discussed topics and help the interviewer understand a candidate’s deeper meaning behind what they are saying.
Scripted questions, while not inherently bad, are less than ideal because they signify little imagination or genuine interest on the candidate’s part. Planning ahead doesn’t allow for off-the-cuff questions or topics that arise during the flow of the interview. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as candidates who are genuinely interested may still ask pre-planned or scripted questions, but original questions that arise from the interview are generally best.
Questions are the foundation of any interview and can provide much needed insight from both a candidate’s and interviewer’s perspective. Pay close attention to the type of questions that candidates ask, as this helps you identify the candidate’s true motives and, in turn, if their interest in the position offered is genuine or self-serving.