I’m always on the lookout for good questions that can give me critical information about a candidate. And if those questions can streamline the screening process at the same time–so much the better.
That’s why the questions in this article can be helpful. However, you will see that the wording should probably be modified for best results.
Should you save the best questions for last?
The next two questions don’t come from the article. But as long as we’re talking about using great questions, I wanted to share a thought about two questions you are undoubtedly asking as a way to potentially speed up the screening process and save you time and money.
I was taught to save the next two questions for last when screening candidates. But I’ve realized that the first can give me insights into the candidate and the second can tell me if we can even afford the candidate . And to wait until the end of a screening to find these things is really wasting your time. Got much of that to waste?
So those two questions are:
- What questions do you have about this position?
That tells me if they do remember applying for the role (see question 1 below but frankly I like mine better.) It tells me if they really read the posting and even better, did they think about it! It can tell you if they are serious about the position or just applying helter skelter in case something works out. And it also tells you if the candidate really knows their job. I expect quality questions that reflect their expertise in the particular role they have applied for.
2. Can you share with me your current compensation, base plus bonus (or commission) plus any amounts you might be leaving on the table or any amounts you would have to reimburse your current employer when you leave?
The second question is to understand their current compensation. And I want to know not just about compensation and bonus but are there any amounts the candidate is leaving on the table (stock options, etc) and are there any amounts the candidate might have to pay in order to leave (reimburse their current employer for moving expenses, for example.)
I hate to spend time with a candidate, fall in love with them and after a comprehensive screening interview, find out they are making way beyond the range my client will every want to pay. That doesn’t make for a great candidate experience and I’ve lost time and money. Nor do I want to get to offer negotiations and discover the candidate needs a $10K signing bonus in order to repay a moving expense reimbursement because they didn’t stay the required two years.
1. Do they even remember applying for the role?
I have literally phone screened thousands of candidates over the last 20+ years! The first question I always ask during a phone screen (once I’ve introduced myself and let them know where I am calling from) is whether or not they can actually recall applying for my role. You can tell a lot from how they respond to this question. After all there’s a huge difference between a potential candidate being able to talk about your specific job ad or someone saying “gosh last week I applied for about 20 jobs and I guess yours was probably one of them!”
2. What was it about the role (or ad) that attracted their attention?
I remember asking this question once to a candidate whose work history actually looked damn good on paper. She literally burst out laughing. “Are you serious? Do you really expect me to know why I specifically applied to yours? Probably because I desperately need to find a new job. Does that answer your question?” Let’s just say I didn’t even need to go on to Question 3!
3. Where are they up to in their job search?
It may feel strange to ask this one over the phone, but believe me it can reveal a lot. Are you the first person they are speaking to? Is yours the only position they have applied for recently? Or have they already been for five interviews this week? Perhaps they even have an offer pending? On the flip side, perhaps they haven’t really started their search yet and were referred to you. Nice.
This is important because if they are expecting an offer long before you can ever get them through your process, you and the hiring manager can decide if it’s worth it to push the process in order to pursue the candidate.
Don’t you love this job? I suspect very few people really get how many aspects there are to what we do.
Read more of the good screening questions here.