Good interview questions can be hard to answer, you learnt that years ago. But now you’re interviewing somebody good, how do you answer their questions? It’s great that they asked you hard questions. However, in a marketplace where there’s a shortage of talent, you need to respond well – you’re on test as well as them!

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The purpose of interviewing somebody is to give both parties enough information to decide on whether there is a “fit” between them. If you don’t answer, or answer wrongly you could end up with the wrong employee. You also want to test their reactions, so it’s worth using their interview questions to get a discussion going, so end your answer with a question to them.

Your answers often give you a chance to market your firm. That’s worth doing whether you’re going to take the candidate on, or not! Always aim that they leave with a good (and accurate) impression of your firm.

How to answer interview questions from good candidates

Consider some good answers before you start interviewing. You need to impress the candidates as much as they need to impress you. The following answers may not be the best answers; the important thing is what the best answers are for your firm – only you know those.

  • Why does this vacancy exist? They’re trying to understand the immediate past, and future of your firm; that’s good. Don’t lie if somebody left under a cloud to create the position, but answer positively. They’re interested in the future, that’s a great way to market your growth, so switch back and ask them how they keep up to date.
  • Where does this role fit in? Great question, they’re trying get a feel for the structure of your firm and possibly potential growth (or problems) in your firm. They want to know if their personal growth ambitions will be met by your firm. You need to be honest about the longer term development potential, and it’s a great way to market your growth, now switch back and ask them how they keep up to date.
  • What is the firm’s culture like? Another good question, it is important your firm’s culture is one that suits them (and vice versa). Do think about the culture of your firm, and some examples that demonstrate it. Having answered well, can you ask them about places they’re liked working and cultures that work well for them?
  • How is performance measured? Interesting question, perhaps explore it before you answer. Were they working somewhere that was so chargeable hours focused that it was unpleasant, or were they hard working and didn’t shine as there was no measurement. What do they mean by performance, and how do you actually your team?
  • What career development prospects do you offer? This is another good, long term thinking question. Answer it, but also check what they’re looking for. You might (or might not) want somebody who moves on after 12 months. You want an engaged and motivated new member of staff, what will help them be like that?
  • How does your firm plan to overcome ‘x’? Now they’re showing their knowledge of the profession, issues you might be facing and an interest in something wider than just completing their job. It’s a chance to market your firm, and also to test their views on the issues further. It’s a great dialogue opening, and don’t forget to ask how they’d overcome “x” too.

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What’s the purpose of a job interview?

Good interview questions are about discussion. Getting a two way discussion going is important, it allows both parties to assess each other. This article was about how you respond to their interview questions. You may also like to think about the questions you ask them, how you find good new employees, what to do before you interview or what to do once you’ve made the job offer.

What are the best interview questions you’ve ever been asked when recruiting?

Other articles in this series include

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Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access