This is the most effective interview question to ask candidates, according to a nationwide survey

Charlie Benson
Charlie Benson

In-person job interviews are often the most time-consuming part of any hiring process. To keep this stage efficient, asking the right questions is crucial.

In a recent research project, GradTouch asked close to 200 graduate employers, talent managers, heads of departments and recruiters across the UK about how they approach Early Careers interviewing.

As part of the survey, interviewers were asked to select which interview question they believe to be most effective in helping them decide whether a candidate is right for a given role.

The majority of respondents selected “why did you choose this company?” as the most effective question (34%).

This question was followed by “tell me about yourself” (21%) and “what do you know about the company?” (13%) when rated for effectiveness.

Why is this question most effective?

To get more insight into the strategies Early Careers interviewers are using, we asked them to explain why this interview question is so effective.

Primarily, employers use it to assess how much research a candidate has done, to find out how passionate they are about the company, and what motivates them. A candidate’s answer will give you an insight into how much thought they’ve put into their decision to apply for the role, as well as giving the graduate themselves the opportunity to explain why they think they’d be a good fit for your organisation.

One interviewer we spoke to summed up what makes this question effective particularly well – here’s why they recommend you ask it when interviewing graduates:

“The answer will reveal how much research they’ve done into the company, and how critically they’ve assessed the research they’ve done. The question ‘what do you know about the company?’ allows the candidate to regurgitate information from our website. This question makes them evaluate that information.

“This question also gives insight into what values they hold. If they focus on the reputation of the company, then quality of service is important. If they focus on salaries being competitive, then they’re money motivated. If they focus on the strong leadership team, then they’re looking for a mentor.

“The answer to this question isn’t actually about the company. It’s about the candidate.”

How to get the answers you’re looking for to “why did you choose this company?”

Of course, a candidate who can provide you with a winning answer to this question is likely to be a hard worker, someone who put the effort into doing their research prior to meeting you. Plus, the more informed a candidate is, the more likely it is they understand what they’re getting into were they to land the job.

However, the onus cannot be placed solely on candidates themselves to source the information they need to give you the answer you’re looking for, and to make a decision as to whether your company is right for them.

We discussed this topic recently with Ashley Hever, Talent Acquisition Director (UK & Ireland) for Enterprise Rent-A-Car for our latest ebook: Interviewing Graduate Candidates: a strategies and trends report

Enterprise have a rich, detailed careers site, which clearly outlines the assessment process and the company’s values, as well as featuring videos of current employees talking about their experiences working for Enterprise. Ashley believes that “the more content you can provide upfront for potential candidates, the better, as they are then able to make an informed decision as to whether to apply or not.”

“It’s as important for candidates to have a clear understanding of the role and the culture at Enterprise as it is for us as recruiters”.

Want access to all of the findings from our research project, and to read our interview with Ashley in full?

You can download the ebook now.

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