Best Candidate Questions You’ve Ever Heard – With a COVID Update!

*Note: I wrote this article originally in 2015 and decided to update it based on our past year’ experience with COVID.

Best Candidate Questions You’ve Ever Heard! Sound Like A Game Show?

Best Candidate Questions You’ve Ever Heard!

Executive search gives me the opportunity to talk with lots of candidates.  I learn from each candidate, because I’m able to better understand their perspective on work opportunities, responsibilities, dreams, and motivators; to name a few.  And many times, I have candidates ask the most interesting questions in the search process.  I’ve listed some of my favorites below and invite you – whether you are a search professional or not – to share some of your most interesting questions.

Bear in mind as you read these examples, that in all my search activities, I always explain the conditions of employment, benefits, and expectations up front.  After all, it’s important to know if there is a serious candidate on the line. Negotiations can and do occur.  Sometimes the mystery unfolds in the process.

Can I Telecommute?

Yep, during the preliminary screening interview I find that “unwillingness to travel” bug, meaning they would not want to drive more than 15 minutes to work. A natural question then is: do you think Company A will let me telecommute several days a week?”  Mind you, this is a preliminary screening interview! NEXT!

Update – More frequently employees and employers are willing to entertain telecommuting, as long as the nature of the work enables the telecommuting. There’s still a tug by employers, but trends, at least initially, appear to indicate that employees may have more to say in this relationship, given labor shortages in certain occupations and advances in technology that have improved the video conferencing experience.

I’d Like A Minimum Of 3 Weeks’ Vacation.

Here is a situation where the prospective candidate wants to negotiate more vacation time.  Mind you, pay is agreed upon, likes the job offer in all other respects, has read, and fully understands all the employee benefits, but wants a minimum of 3 weeks’ vacation (“my lifestyle can’t suffer because of work you know”).  Mind you, the candidate has not worked 1 day, and has not earned anything from the potential employer – but wants guaranteed time off in the first year.  Oh yes, and he is getting laid off from his job next week!  NEXT!

Update – No change here – yet.  The rationale sticks yet certain candidates are still upfront and requesting this accommodation. Seems they believe they hold the upper hand. Good thing reality sets in.

Do I Need To Relocate?

Like “can I telecommute” but a little different.  In this instance, the candidate lives several hundred miles (or thousands) of miles away from the employer workplace.  She really wants the job opportunity, has gone through all the interviews, reference checks, background screens, the employer has introduced her to all the key executives – and then – the relocation question.  Sometimes this can be accommodated. The employer will rent an apartment, condo, house, etc. where the new employee will stay Monday through Thursday and will pay for the commute back and forth from their home.  But wouldn’t you think that she would have addressed that early on? NEXT!

Update – It’s a request – not frequent, but a request.  Fact – I had a Staff Accountant applicant apply from a western state. When I asked him if he would relocate, he indicated that he planned to work remotely full-time (after all, he had just bought a house)!

I’ve given 3 examples.  Perhaps, just perhaps, I’m still an old-school, traditional, in-the-box search professional who is totally out of touch with the changing dynamics of the workplace – well at least certain workplaces.  And perhaps I’m not.  But I continue to be amused by some of the questions I get asked.

Update – I’ve adjusted to the “new normal,” however, I’m not certain that the pendulum has swung permanently in the direction I write about. It will be interesting this next year to see how work relationships modify – and what further questions I might get to write about next year.

I also know that employers are changing their expectations to accommodate changing candidate requirements.  How much is enough?  How much is too much?  If customers and clients are pleased with the products and services – does it matter?

Please feel free to give some of your favorites – and to explain why I’m out of touch with the modern workforce expectations.  After all – I know I can and have changed, and I also know who provides the employee a paycheck weekly.  Please be kind!

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