Interviewing, Alignment, Retention
This interview strategy improves the candidate experience, helps hiring managers and candidates align, and lays the foundation for strong employee retention.
Reverse interviews, although not as common as traditional ones, are effective assets in the hiring process. Reverse interviews turn the tables of the candidate-employer dynamic. Candidates get the opportunity to dive into aspects of the company, culture, and role that matter most to them. But what are they and what are the best reverse interview questions?
Reverse interviews also foster greater transparency and openness when recruiting tech talent. They empower candidates to better understand the role and company. Whether you’re in talent acquisition or technical recruiting, consider these interviews a tool to build relationships with candidates and boost their interest in your company. This article provides a guide to employers for integrating reverse interviews into their hiring process and a customizable template of a checklist with the best reverse interview questions to prep your hiring managers.
A reverse interview is a twist on the traditional job interview where roles are flipped. Candidates get the opportunity to ask questions to the employer. The candidate has the option to request another interview with any of the people they met with. This time, it follows their structure. Candidates get plenty of time to get a peek under the hood and ask the hard questions.
In a past episode of Hired’s podcast, Talk Talent to Me, former One Medical Head of Technical Recruiting Viet Nguyen explained why he uses reverse interviews. Though they are optional, Viet says 8 out of 10 candidates choose to do them. So candidates probably don’t feel they get a comprehensive view of companies from the standard interview process.
He says, “We do something interesting called a reverse interview. After giving candidates a thumbs up, we offer them an opportunity to come back and really interview us. They’re in a position of strength, able to ask any question they want.
Some even request to sit in on planning meetings to witness disagreements and understand our conflict resolution. Not everyone takes us up on this offer, but those who do usually join. They appreciate the transparency and clarity they receive about our work environment.”
Candidates can ask reverse interview questions to learn about the company’s culture, management style, growth potential, and more. This makes the process more conversational and less intimidating.
Whether you’re a DEI leader or you have DEI hiring goals to include more talent from underrepresented groups on your teams, building a reverse interview into your process helps. Why? Because formalizing it as part of the process and communicating it to candidates lets them know you value their part in this two-way process.
Whether someone is an introvert, or just lacks the confidence to pose these types of reverse interview questions independently, knowing a stage of the interview is intended for “turning the tables,” communicates transparency. It also says their opinion of the “fit” or “add” is equally important.
Survey sentiment from Hired’s 2023 report on Wage Inequality in the Tech Industry suggests tech talent in underrepresented groups sometimes refrain from negotiating in their job search due to imposter syndrome, concerns about losing the opportunity, or worries about fewer options in the market. Building a reverse interview into the hiring process relieves them of “feeling pushy” or any other reasons they’d “hold back.”
Incorporating reverse interviews works best at the later stages of the hiring process. At this point, a candidate has passed the initial screenings and shown interest (and fit) for the role.
Inviting them for a reverse interview can be highly effective. This stage is crucial because both parties are seriously considering long-term fit.
Candidates seeking a reverse interview ideally express their interest in final round interviews or post-offer. This is when they really need to weigh their options and get deeper insights to make the right decision. For employers, it’s about creating an open environment where candidates feel comfortable to request it.
For candidates, constructing good reverse interview questions requires a balance. That is, between demonstrating interest and evaluating alignment with long-term professional goals. These questions help jobseekers clarify the role and show serious intent and curiosity.
The best reverse interview questions also attune employers to a candidate’s ability to think and articulate thoughts. This enhances their appreciation for potential contributions to the team. It subconsciously encourages the interviewer to visualize the candidate as part of the team. Here are a few examples of questions hiring managers should be ready to respond to (For more, download this full prep checklist):
“Can you provide examples of times when you’ve experienced the company’s culture and core values?”
“As a manager, how would you handle a conflict within the team?”
“What are the main challenges the team or department is currently facing?”
“What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for success in this role?”
“Is the company transparent with employees about its financial solvency, stability, and growth prospects?
The technique of using reverse interview questions is not limited to candidates. Hiring managers could use this method too. Gauge a candidate’s passion for the role, their understanding of the company’s objectives, and their ability to fit within the team’s culture. How? By asking them to suggest a few questions they would pose during the interview process. The answer options show what a candidate cares about and how they think interviews should work.
Reverse interviews emphasize a two-way street approach. They shape the course of candid conversations and offer a more rounded decision-making process. Both candidates and employers stand to gain from this approach championing transparency and trust.
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