When the interviewer becomes the interviewee..

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I was chatting to a friend at the weekend who told me he was interviewing someone for a role at his company and at the end of the interview he asked the inevitable, “do you have any questions?” Half expecting the candidate who, by the sounds of it, had a reasonably strong interview, to say something standard like “what’s the annual leave policy?” or “no, I think you’ve covered everything!”. Instead, the candidate came back with a rather unexpected:

“Describe your company in 3 words”

“What Hogwarts house would you be in?”

My friend admitted he was totally taken aback! Here he was, Director of a company and someone he was interviewing for a relatively junior role was putting him on the spot. Flustered and unable to think of just three words to describe the company, he said he waffled an answer that was much longer than the candidate had asked for. And having very little interest in Harry Potter, he really struggled to define himself in terms of fictional groups!

To me, it raised a really interesting point. If an interview gets turned on its head and the interviewer ends up being the interviewee, how does this affect the candidate’s chances of being offered the job? Will they be seen as creative, interesting and able to think outside the box? Or will it give an impression of arrogance, disrespect and create a barrier between them and the interviewer? And how about for the candidate- if the employer can’t give a suitable answer to their questions, what impression does that give of the firm they are applying to work at?

I asked my friend how it made him feel to be given a question of which he wasn’t sure what the correct answer would be. He readily admitted that it threw up an air of nervousness in the interview, mainly on his part. The candidate seemed genuinely intrigued as to what the answers would be and watched intently as my friend tried to muster up suitably interesting responses to his questions.

For me, I think that a candidate who poses articulate and relevant questions at the end of an interview is someone who demonstrates a genuine interest in the company they are interviewing at, their culture and their ethos. And the type of question deemed “suitable” also will depend on the role you are interviewing for, the rapport you have built up during the interview with the employer and what information you are trying to extract.  Throwing random questions about superheroes in to a formal interview for a senior management position for example is likely to be seen as lack of seriousness on your part. But asking something like “what is your favourite thing about working for the company?” or “what would you see as the most challenging part of this job?” are great examples of how intelligent questioning can make you stand out for the right reasons.

So our advice is, definitely have a couple of questions up your sleeve for the end of the interview. Think carefully about what you are trying to achieve and what impression you want to make by your choice of question. Don’t be afraid to ask something “unusual” but make sure it’s still in keeping with the tone of the interview and the role you are applying for.

If you find yourself looking for a new job in business travel, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! We can help you navigate the tricky waters of interviewing and explain how to leave a lasting impression that keeps you at the forefront of the clients’ mind.

Ps- the candidate is still in the running for the job!

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 

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