6 Questions Good Potential Employees Will Ask In An Interview

By Amanda Cohen on February 21, 2018

As a senior, I know that myself, along with hundreds of thousands of people across the world, are seeking some sort of employment. Whether they are looking for a part-time job, an internship, a freelance position, or a full-time job, people are searching and companies are hiring. Even though potential employers are the main people asking the questions in an interview, the interviewees will also, and should also, ask questions to whoever they are talking to.

Most interviews will end with the hirer asking “Do you have any questions for me before we finish this up?” If the interviewee has questions, they clearly have been listening or they genuinely are interested and want to know more about the company and the individual position itself. It’s necessary for the interviewee to be prepared, but it’s also equally as necessary for the hirer to be prepared. So, if you are about to interview a potential employee, keep on reading so that you know what’s may be thrown at you.

Image via. https://pixabay.com/en/handshake-hand-give-business-man-2056023/

“I know that you currently work in [insert job title], but what jobs did you used to do that got you to this point? Did you have to start in an entry-level position that wasn’t as specific to your passions in order to get where you are?”

Recent college graduates are often scared because they see people who seem to have their dream jobs right off the bat. Usually, entry-level positions are not everyone’s dream job and jumping into this walk up the corporate ladder can be terrifying. When they ask you this question, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t excited about the current job they are applying for, they are mostly looking for some sort of reassurance. When answering this question, there are a few ways to go about it. First, you can explain how entry-level positions work at your company and the potential ways that employees can be promoted. If they are asking you this question, they are showing that they are hard workers and are already looking to go above and beyond to move up in the company.

Another way to answer this question is to talk about it on a very personal level. You can take this opportunity to relate to the interviewee and explain that you too had trepidation entering into your first job and that you are excited that they want to learn more about your own experiences as well as the job track of the company. This also gives you a chance to gush over the company and show the person how amazing of a place it is and how there are a plethora of opportunities to work your way up from an entry-level position. If you did not have a positive experience when it comes to your career track, you definitely should answer this question on a more general company level rather than a personal level because you don’t want to deter the interviewee.

“I want to get this job so badly, but I am traveling for a few weeks after graduation so I may not be able to start until [insert date here]. Will that be a problem?”

Most college students have plans to travel after graduation. This is there last bit of freedom before starting work. When someone asks this question, I don’t want you to think that they aren’t interested in starting the position, they are just being honest. They are showing that they are honest and respectful and that they don’t want to make promises they can’t keep. If the start date is a potential issue, tell that person and see if they can change their travel plans. If he/she can’t, explain that you need to see when other applicants can start and then take it from there. You can also tell that person of other opportunities within the company in which a start date is much more negotiable.

You can also take this insight as an opportunity to learn about the potential employee. You can ask what type of traveling they are doing and where they are going. Sparking up conversation will not only show the interviewee’s communication and people skills, but it’s also nice to connect with your applicant. Information like travel will also help you remember the applicant because, let’s be real, after a bunch of interviews people start to blend together. The more you try to connect with an applicant on a personal level, the more inclined that applicant will be to not only be a great employee, but also say positive things about the company in general.

Image via. https://pixabay.com/en/interview-superior-staff-2207741/

“[If applying for an internship] does this company save spots for interns to potentially enter a full-time position the next year?”

Even though this question may seem bold, students are much more inclined to take internships in which there are possibilities to immediately get hired post-grad (if they do a good job). This type of career model is offered mainly by large conglomerates, banks, and consulting firms, but other companies offer this model as well. If your company does use this sort of model, explain to the potential intern how it works and how many spots are usually offered. You can also divulge the competitiveness of earning one of these coveted spots, if you are so inclined, but the interviewee doesn’t expect that you will tell them too much information since they know that depending on the number of interns hired that these numbers/models are subject to change.

If your company does not offer this type of career progression, explain to the interviewee that his/her resume and job application remains in the system and that they should network during their time at the internship so that they can talk to people post-grad about potential full-time job opportunities. If you have a story that is relevant to this question, feel free to tell the interviewee about it because that will give him/her some inkling of what it’s like to work with a company of a different career model. If the interviewee continues to ask questions about networking throughout the internship, it shows that the potential employee is highly interested in the position and creating a full-time career there in the future.

“What is your office model? Is it a typical 9-5 job, or are the hours more flexible?”

In the past, this may have seemed like a silly question, but nowadays more and more offices (especially in the creative sector) are becoming more flexible with the amount of time a person has to spend in the actual office and how much work he/she can do at home. If your office is strict about a typical 9-5 schedule, explain that to the potential employee so that he/she knows what he/she is getting themselves into. This is also a great time to move into a discussion about payment, bonuses, overtime, etc. For example, some companies who have their employees stay late will pay for their meals and their transportation home. You can also use this time to talk about vacation days, sick days, emergency absences, etc.

The way in which this question is answered is highly dependent on the age of the applicant, the job that he/she is applying for, and how much information you are allowed to divulge during the interview. If you can’t say much about timing/payment, be honest and explain that if the person were to get the job, these questions will get answered before he/she has to sign a contract. However, the more information you are allowed to tell the applicants, the better because you want the applicant to feel like they have what they need to more along in the job application process.

Infographic by Amanda Cohen

“When will I hear back about whether or not I move along in the interview process/whether or not I get the job?”

As a soon-to-be college graduate applying for jobs herself, the worst part about the application and interview process is the waiting and the unknown. Many companies will only respond to applicants or interviewees if they are moving up in the job application process, therefore we are often left in the dark. The purpose of this question is not to rush employers, but rather the purpose is the just gather some general information/create a timeline on when they are expected to hear back. If you give the interviewee an answer and they ask if they are able to contact HR for more information about getting an answer, all you have to say is yes or no. If you say no, explain to him/her why you are not allowed to divulge that information.

Many times, if an employee doesn’t get accepted into a job, they want to know where they went wrong in an interview in order to better themselves. If they ask this question along these type of lines, you can either give them your information or another employee’s information so that they can find out why they didn’t get the job and what they can do differently in other job interviews. It’s always important to remember that you were once in their shoes and how terrifying and anxiety-provoking the job-finding process is. If going over past interviews isn’t something that your company normally does, explain that to the interviewee. However, if you are willing to talk to the interviewee post-interview if he/she does not get the job, give him/her your contact information, you would honestly be doing him/her an amazing service.

“What is your favorite part about working for [insert company name here]?”

This question is meant to be more personal, so I would try to really come up with an amazing answer. Try more and don’t just say “The people are great and the hours are awesome.” Rather, try and use strong, descriptive adjectives and then come up with concrete examples for each of them. If you are willing to divulge personal information, tell a personal story. You can talk about making lifetime friends at the company and the strong relationships you have with people are each and every level of their careers. You can talk about how much you love your boss and how he/she gave you extra time off for a family emergency. You can talk about how you were in the same position as the interviewee a few years ago and why you knew that this company was the place you wanted to be.

If you don’t want to get into specifics about the company and its employees, you can talk about the company’s location. For example, if the company is in New York City, talk about some of your favorite restaurants and activities to do around the city. If you are in Chicago, talk about how you and your co-workers took some fun photos when you first moved here at The Bean. Be honest with the interviewee and give them a taste of what it means to be an employee at whatever company you are at. You want them to feel like this interview was personal and not just a cookie-cutter interview. You want that person to do whatever it takes to get the position he/she is applying for.

I hope this article gave employers and recruiters some insight on what to expect from an interview with a college student and/or college graduate. Remember, we are human and we get nervous during high-stakes events, like a job interview, so try to give us the benefit of the doubt if we ask either too many questions or not enough questions. If we are at the interview, we want to be there, and the number of questions we ask or don’t ask is not a reflection of our dedication to the job position that we are applying for. However, you must know that we are eager to learn more about the company and we are eager to be a part of your company, which is why we may be nervous, or too chatty, or not chatty enough. Thank you for reading and I hope each and every company finds the employees that they’ve been searching for!

By Amanda Cohen

Uloop Writer
University of Michigan
I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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