As recruiters, we interview people on a near-daily basis. Candidates mainly, trying to assess suitability and matching the candidates’ skills to the client’s requirements. It becomes second nature especially when you have a checklist sitting in front of you. However, when it comes to recruiters going on an interview for a job they want, you would be amazed at the level of prep required! They’ve spent most of their day interviewing?! Not sure of another profession where this would happen? A top chef coming home and burning the roast? An off-the-clock stripper getting caught in their top like Balotelli? Maybe it’s the shift in dynamic? All of a sudden, they are the vulnerable ones having their motivations and aspirations brought into question. The market has been a cruel mistress for a wee while now. The tap has been turned off but more recently the plug has been pulled with candidates clambering to leave NZ. As a result, I have been meeting with candidates at the more junior end of the spectrum where interview prep is crucial. I’ve been outlining in very clear terms what to ask and what not to ask in an interview. Here are some pearls of my own experience with candidates that you can use for yours.

What to ask.

Why is this position available? – If the person who did this role previously is now in Arkham Asylum using a shoe to contact candidates it’s a bit of a red flag. If they went overseas on an OE or left to run the family business that’s fine. Also, this tests the truthfulness of the interviewer.

What has made people successful/unsuccessful in this role? – It shows you are thinking about the role in real terms. You are trying to avoid the pitfalls that the last guy fell for, it shows you are being as efficient as possible while also exploring the parts of the role that can be difficult.

Why did you decide to join this organisation? – If you’ve done your research, you would have jumped on LinkedIn and had a look at who is interviewing you. You’ll see that they have been in your exact position; contemplating joining this company. What was it that that attracted them?

How did your company respond to COVID? – It’s a newy but a goody. A company’s response to COVID is very telling to how they view their employees. Are you one of the family at the end of the day or are you one cell in an excel document at the end of the month?

What are your expectations for this role? – Covers off progression and also gives you some realistic targets to aim for. You get an understanding early doors about the things that are important, what exactly does success look like in this role.

What NOT to ask

Holidays/breaks – Yes, it’s important but, if you are asking about the amount of time you can take off from the job before values and culture it’s going to raise some eyebrows. Chances are if it differs from the norm you will be told about it but there’s also a paragraph dedicated to it in the contract.

Dress Code – Read the room. If you have to ask someone how to dress you may as well ask them if they can tie your shoes too. I think dressing to impress is always a good rule of thumb going into a new environment, suss the vibe a few months in then you can start taking risks.

Politics – Seemingly impossible to avoid I know, but at the interview stage, I wouldn’t bring it up unless prompted. It’s sort of like meeting the family of a new partner for the first time you want to put your best foot forward. Several Christmases in you can pipe up with an alternative view but best to bask in the diversity of thought in the initial stages.

Avoid getting too personal – Where do you live? Is a relatively normal question to ask as Auckland is an interesting landscape and a reasonable talking point. However, the street is a bit far. Favorite teacher at school? Mother’s maiden name? The last 4 digits of an IRD number and you will be shown the door.

Stepping Stone– If you are going for an agency role and you start talking about internal recruitment or, you go for an internal recruitment role and ask about generalist HR. You’re essentially saying you don’t want the job you are interviewing for but are looking to make a sideways step at some point.

As most of our readership are recruiters hopefully this has been helpful advice you can tell your candidates but also when it comes to your own job search. The key thing about any interview is it should be a conversation, not an interrogation. Asking questions is everything! At the core of any recruiter in an inquisitive nature and our ability to ask questions will either help or hinder when it comes to opening up a brief. Questions show enthusiasm and a keenness to know more. A question you may be asking yourself is “Scott, are there any Pow Wow tickets left?” Excellent question! Yes, a few so if you don’t want to miss out click the link below.

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