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Dear Kristy: What Questions Should I Ask New Candidates?

recruiting employees, hiring employees

Dear Kristy,

Thank you for all the great advice you’re providing in your blogs! I was especially interested in the one you wrote about compensation, and what candidates today are looking for in new jobs.

Now, I have a question for you. Before inviting candidates in for a formal, in-person interview, I like to have a brief phone conversation with them to ask some basic questions to find out if they’ll be a potential fit or now. Lately, however, I seem to be striking out. Candidates seem great on the phone, then appear different in-person.

What are some initial phone interview questions I can ask to do a better job sorting out good candidates from those who won’t fit?

Thank you!

Jeff A.

Hello Jeff!

This is a great question! Brief phone interviews are pretty common right now, especially as companies try to lessen COVID-19 exposure risk as much as possible.

Here are a few good questions to start with:

  1. Are you still with your current employer, and what has you on the job hunt?

This answer can provide a lot of information! First off, it’s an early sign as to whether or not their resume is correct. We see a lot of resumes with incorrect work dates!

If they are still working with their current employer, listen carefully to what has them on the job hunt. It’s good when a candidate is honest about their reasons for leaving, however, if they are talking poorly about their current employer, that could be a red flag! If they’ve had several recent jobs, dig a little further here! Ask why they left another previous employer, and see if there is a pattern being established with their answers. For example, if they were at XYZ Restoration for 18 months and left because there was no room for growth, and have been with ABC Restoration for a year and are saying the same thing, that *could* be a red flag. Of course, there are always anomalies where yes, perhaps those companies were stagnant. And yes, perhaps this is a driven candidate who would thrive in the right environment with the right challenges and career trajectory. These are all things to consider!

  1. What do you think a customer is looking for in a restoration company after a loss on their property?

This can tell you pretty quickly about the character of a candidate and how well they understand the restoration industry. Ideal candidates for most roles provide answers revolving around the importance of empathy and communication. Also, listen for candidates who believe in educating their clients on the restoration process, in addition to keeping them informed!

A quick word of caution….

Do keep in mind that if you’re calling a candidate blindly, they might not be prepared at that moment to answer questions in the best possible manner. For this reason, we recommend doing in-person interviews right from the start whenever possible.