Things to Ask in an Interview That Candidates Won’t Ask Themselves

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Job interviews have become a pretty predictable experience — the standard questions are delivered, and at the end of the ordeal, it’s general procedure to open up the floor to see if the interviewee has any of their own questions on their mind.

Typically, they’ll bring up a few: When will you have made your decision by? What is your company’s culture like? What can I expect on a daily basis?

These are all common questions that an interviewee is expected to ask, but more than likely, these aren’t the only questions on their mind. Out of fear of making a poor first impression, or being considered more of a liability than an asset, many candidates will hold their tongue when it comes to asking things that they really want to know.

As an interviewer, it helps if you break the ice and bring up the uncomfortable subjects for them, and if you’re clueless about what those things might be, here are a few suggestions to help you know where to start.

Maternity leave

This is a very hard and uncomfortable thing for women to bring up in their interview. For years, women have fought for equality in the workplace, and bringing up possible time off due to a pregnancy makes women uneasy, as unfortunately, the stigma of working women hasn’t completely dissolved.

This is all the more reason to bring it up to both your female and male candidates (many companies also offer “family leave” to men as well). Pregnancy is a natural occurrence, so it’s best for any possible employee to know what their options are before they start.

Always discuss the leave in a matter-of-fact, unbiased manner to avoid any misconstrued ideas from being formed. Go over everything as a standard procedure, and make sure to include the details of if it’s paid, how long an employee has to be with the company before they can receive the paid benefits, what the maximum time for a leave is, etc.

Knowing what to expect from the start helps a potential employee have a clear idea of if your company is a good fit for them.


Many job descriptions are pretty vague when it comes to covering their benefits package, and you can guarantee that’s a subject that’s on most candidates’ minds.

However, most potential employees won’t bring the subject up because interviews are often seen as a time to sell themselves instead of a time to be sold on the company.

The truth of the matter is that it’s both, and going into detail about any insurance benefits, vacation leave, paid holidays, and anything else your company offers is important in making sure an employee has the right idea when pursuing a position with your company.

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The “negatives” of  working for the company

What do you think your biggest weakness is?” is a question that comes up in interviews on a daily basis, but the question is hardly ever flipped around.

However, no job or company offers a perfect environment, and if you’re expecting the interviewee to divulge a personal frailty, be fair and offer it back. This doesn’t mean you have to make a detailed list of all the areas that need improvement, but offer a couple consistent gripes that other employees are vocal about.

Your honesty will quench their curiosity, and allowing an employee to come in knowing what the company’s weaknesses or negatives are will help keep your turnover rate to a minimum.

The reasons you’ve let people go

Being fired is a common fear for any employee, especially one who is new on the job, and it helps to offer a few reasons why you’ve had to let people go in the past (while leaving out personal information of course) for the same reason you might ask the interviewee why they were dismissed from their last position — it helps them consider if they can offer the necessary skills for the position and/or what things to avoid doing while on the job.

Many employees are very curious about this, but it’s a taboo subject. Offering the information up front can help give them some useful information to ponder when/if you offer them the position.

Interviews can be nerve-wracking experience for anyone, and over-analyzing and self-criticizing are normal habits when being evaluated by a stranger who is helping mold your future. And, that can cause the candidate to hold back genuine thoughts or concerns that are on their mind.

To help make things easier and clearer for a potential employee, it helps if you address the questions that are being left unanswered, and if you think back to a time when you were in their position, it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a few ideas of what those might be.


3 Comments on “Things to Ask in an Interview That Candidates Won’t Ask Themselves

  1. Great piece Arlene. I was interviewing an executive the other day to get their perspective on their favourite questions to ask in an interview for an e-book we’re making at Kira Talent. One that stood out was:

    At the end of the interview, after all the questions, I like to ask one remaining question to the candidate “We’ve talked a lot about the role and your experience. Having done that, what is the one question you still want to ask but are too afraid to ask.”

    Thanks again for the share.

    David Singh
    VP Strategy & Operations

  2. Australia, USA or Perú. You article reflects what is really expecting a Candidate to know on most job’s interviews. I would take your advices seriouslly! Excelent piece.

  3. Liked this article! Regarding to knowing the “negatives” of working for a company is sometimes good to know ahead of time because some candidates would love to be “part of the solution” when joining a company that lets you know what has negatively impacted them. It shows their accountability for the negative and/or the positive of how a company is doing. I actually worked in a place that from the beginning into the interview process talked about what they needed to do to fix their current situation and it was to increase their resources, hiring more employees, to fix their current problems. I was ready to start working hard!

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