HR · 14 August 2017

Ten candidate questions that can make or break a job interview

Hiring tips for small businesses
Over nine in ten job candidates always try to ask an employer a question about the company

In the limitations of a short job interview, first impressions are important in assessing if an applicant is both qualified and a suitable fit to company culture. New research has now indicated which candidate questions demonstrate best the applicant’s potential. 

After quizzing 1,200 workers across the UK, job site CV-Library found that over three-quarters of professionals prepared interview questions in advance, while over nine in ten said they always tried to ask their potential employer a question of their own.

According to respondents, the following five questions had directly jeopardised their chance at passing an interview.

  1. What does your company do? (53 per cent)
  2. How often do you give your employees a pay-rise? (52.9 per cent)
  3. Will I have to work long hours? (50.3 per cent)
  4. How much will I get paid? (49.8 per cent)
  5. Do you offer sick pay? (45.4 per cent)

In terms of the magic number of questions, a majority believed between three and five was appropriate. However, one in ten would be prepared to put between six and ten questions forward.

Commenting on the findings, Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, said thoughtful candidate questions helped demonstrate the interviewee has a “genuine interest” in working for a company.

He added: “Unfortunately, questions around money and working hours can often touch a nerve with potential employers, as it could suggest that you’re not actually interested in the role itself and the work you’ll be doing.”

Meanwhile, when asked which questions had been received well – and perhaps help clinched the role – respondents said the following five candidate questions won over the employer.

  1. Is there room for development in this position? (74.2 per cent)
  2. How would you describe the general culture of the company and the workplace? (51.3 per cent)
  3. What are the team like that I will be working with? (36.8 per cent)
  4. When can I start? (24.2 per cent)
  5. How do you measure success? (23.3 per cent)

Biggins said questions around company culture, teams and barometers of success showed more about a candidate than those over salaries and working hours.

“Doing so will help you paint a picture of what it’s like to work there, and will also show to the interviewer that you are passionate about working in a company where the fit is right on both sides,” he added.

Find out which avoidable hiring mistakes are costing UK employers billions each year

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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