Recruitment is a dynamic process that hinges on communication and understanding, and nowhere is this more evident than in the questions candidates pose to recruiters. In the modern job market, candidates are not just looking for any job; they are seeking the right job in the right organisation.

We’re still seeing the effects of a candidate-led market, with competition for talent as fierce as ever. This means there is more pressure than ever on recruiters to answer these questions in the right way and appeal to what candidates are looking for in a role.

To help recruiters respond effectively, we’ve compiled a detailed list of ten of these candidate questions and why they matter, so that recruiters can provide the best possible answers.

10 Candidate Questions Recruiters Should Prepare For

  1. What Is the Company Culture Like?

Why it matters: Candidates are searching for a work environment that aligns with their values. Be ready to provide insights into your organisation’s culture, from its core values and mission to its daily practices and team dynamics.

You will need to be able to give tangible examples of how the positive culture within your organisation impacts the working lives of your people.

Candidates are hoping to understand why your workplace is different. They need to understand your Employee Value Proposition. This is your opportunity to communicate that.

  1. What Does Success Look Like in This Role?

Why it matters: Candidates want to envision themselves in the role and understand how their performance will be evaluated. Be prepared to clarify what success means in this specific position and how it contributes to the company’s success.

Be specific with the goals that you will have for the successful candidate in this role, the tasks you will need them to undertake, and any training that might be required to help this person become successful.

Paint a clear picture of how the candidate will grow within the organisation to meet the standards you are expecting. Remember that a candidate being successful in the role does not simply require them to work hard – it requires the organisation helping them to get where they need to be in terms of support, guidance, training, and performance management.

  1. Can You Describe the Team I’ll Be Working With?

Why it matters: Candidates are curious about the people they will collaborate with. Discuss the team’s size, roles, and how they interact. Highlight the strengths and diversity within the team and make it clear how you feel this candidate will fit within that established dynamic.

Equally important– how does the team work together? Are your team generally remote, or do they come into an office several times a week? Are there tools you use to help your team collaborate more effectively when working from home? Make sure that all of this is clear to the candidate.

  1. What Opportunities for Professional Growth Are Available?

Why it matters: Ambitious candidates are not just seeking a job; they’re pursuing a career. Share insights into training, mentorship, and advancement opportunities. Discuss how the company supports continuous learning and development.

This is an opportunity to highlight the growth opportunities that others have already experienced within your organisation.

This is even an opportunity to discuss targets, performance review processes, and to talk about what you expect from the candidate in the role within the first 6, 8, or 12 months in this role.

  1. How Does the Company Support Work-Life Balance?

Why it matters: Work-life balance is increasingly vital to candidates. Explain the company’s policies, such as flexible hours or remote work options, which promote a healthy balance.

Again, this comes back to the issue of company culture – is there a culture that values people working late, or promotes competition to see who takes the fewest sick days? These types of attitudes were all too common even 5 years ago but are much less appealing to jobseekers today.

Attitudes around staying late, or mental health physical health can be extremely telling and extremely troubling. Candidates are looking for reassurances that your company has a modern understanding of work-life balance.

  1. What Are the Company’s Long-Term Goals and Strategy?

Why it matters: This is a helpful thing for someone to understand during an interview process. Candidates want to join organisations with a clear vision for the future. But more than anything, they want to see that anyone within the organisation understands and can communicate the goals and strategy of the business.

Explain the company’s goals, growth strategies, and how the role connects to these ambitions; there isn’t necessarily a wrong answer to this question, but there is certainly a wrong way to answer the question. Not being clear or confident in discussing the businesses’ goals will make it look as though you don’t really know what you’re talking about. It can make the company feel aimless, as though it is sleepwalking towards whatever goals have been identified.

Ambitious candidates want to join ambitious organisations – if a candidate couldn’t adequately explain their goals and motivations, it would be a turn-off for recruiters. The same is true the other way around.

  1. Can You Provide Insights into the Onboarding Process?

Why it matters: One in 5 employees report having a poor onboarding experience, while less than 12% of employees report that they’re onboarding experience was ‘good. This leads to around a third of new hires leaving within the first 90 days of a new role. This means that a fair number of organisations are wasting their own time and a candidate’s time during recruitment.

Candidates want to transition into their new roles smoothly. They want to feel that its going to help to set them up to be successful in their role and not lead to more job searching in a few months’ time. Describe the onboarding process, including initial training, mentorship, and ongoing support, and how that will set them up for success.

  1. How Does the Company Give Back to the Community?

Why it matters: Many candidates seek purpose-driven organisations. Share the company’s commitment to community involvement, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and ethical practices.

Corporate Social Responsibility has a huge impact on employees, usually leading to much higher levels of employee engagement and making people less likely to look for other jobs.

The onus is on employers to build the kinds of workplaces that can attract and retain staff, and a commitment to CSR, to helping the community, and to DE&I is going to make your organisation a much more appealing place to come and work for candidates than if your company has no interest in engaging in such activities.

  1. What Is the Company’s Response to Challenges and Crises?

Why it matters: Candidates are looking for business resilience. Discuss how the company has navigated adversity, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and the support provided to employees during challenging times.

Remember that many people looking for work right now will have seen firsthand the effects of a lack of preparedness to challenges in the wake of the global pandemic. They may have been furloughed or laid off during this time or seen family members and loved ones go through such an experience.

People are looking for security, especially with an ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the UK. Candidates need reassurance that the response to future crises won’t just be to lay off staff.

  1. Can You Share Success Stories of Current Employees?

Why it matters: Real-life examples of employee success inspire candidates. Share stories of current employees who have excelled in their roles, grown within the company, and achieved personal and professional milestones.

This feeds back into all of the questions outlined above. Success stories are like case studies in B2B marketing – they’re about building that trust and faith in new candidates that individuals like themselves have already been able to enjoy success, grow, and establish themselves within your organisation.

Being able to share these stories is key, and not having any clear examples when asked about them is a clear red flag.

Preparation is Key

As recruiters, being prepared to answer these questions is essential. It demonstrates transparency, deepens candidate trust, and enhances the candidate experience. Moreover, a well-prepared recruiter doesn’t just attract talent but also shapes a robust employer brand.

In today’s competitive job market, candidates have choices. By answering their questions honestly and comprehensively, recruiters differentiate themselves as trusted partners in the candidate’s journey.

This not only leads to successful hires but also enriches the organisation’s talent pool and strengthens its reputation as a top employer. By understanding the significance of these questions and preparing thoughtful responses, recruiters can foster stronger connections with candidates, ultimately benefiting both parties in the recruitment process.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and HR Zone, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.