Candidates, ask your interviewer these questions!

February 02nd, 2024 | < 1 Min Read


Candidates, we know that job hunting is incredibly hard! Tailoring CV’s, preparing for interviews, taking time off work, conducting due diligence, negotiating salaries and resigning from your current position is a lot for someone to deal with – especially when it’s balance with all of life’s other priorities.

Thankfully, the hugely talented Chief People Officer, and friend of Hawkwood, Hannah Keal, has utilized her experience Consulting on behalf of many of London’s most notable tech scale-ups, to produce an amazing tip sheet; designed to help better ensure you choose a great next employer.

When recruiting People & Talent leadership roles, at Hawkwood, we’ve found that an open relationship with the SLT is key to success. The incoming hire must feel they have the trust of leadership in order for them to be empowered to affect change and have the desired impact.

By asking your interviewer questions such as those that Hannah recommends, not only will you uncover lots of useful information to help determine if this company is the right home for you, but you’ll also have the chance to do an early test of the trust dynamic between you and your future stakeholders.

We’d recommend taking a read through and re-assessing this list after each interview stage, to identify the questions that feel most important to you based on everything that has been uncovered so far.

We hope you get all the information you are looking for and thanks, once again, to the wonderful Hannah Keal!

 

QUESTIONS:

 

  • How would you describe your culture? (I always think it’s helpful to frame this question by sharing your definition of culture – e.g. how people treat each other and make decisions, what behaviours are most valued here – otherwise answers can be a bit vague + generic and involve a lot of adjectives)
  • (If relevant) Why haven’t you hired a People person sooner? 
  • (If relevant) Tell me more about the current People team…
  • How is it structured? 
  • What are some of the current team’s key strengths? What development areas have you noticed? 
  • Can you tell me about a recent ‘win’ the team has had? 

 

  • Have you run an engagement survey recently? What did you learn? What did the action planning process look like? 
  • (If relevant) What does ‘flexible working’ mean for you? Is this clear to everyone or more informally defined? How is it working? 
  • What’s your current team turnover? 
  • Why do you think people leave this company? 
  • What do you think my single biggest challenge will be in this role? 
  • I noticed a few Glassdoor reviews about X – can you provide me with a little bit more context? 
  • (If full remote team) Tell me a bit more about your last retreat. Did it serve the purpose you wanted it to? 

 

Founders/leadership team

 

  • Tell me more about the leadership team? 
  • How do you work together? 
  • What are your current rhythms + rituals (e.g. regular meetings, how you communicate, regular offsites)
  • Are there generally good levels of constructive discussion? 
  • How do the leadership team feel about the People function/the hiring of this role? 
  • What would you say are some of the leadership teams key strengths? What gaps have you noticed? What’s missing that would add real value? 

 

  • When you think about 2024 – what are you most excited about? What, if anything, is worrying you? 
  • What can you tell me about the current health of company finances? Any fundraising/mergers/acquisitions on the cards?
  • How transparent are you with the wider team about finance metrics, fundraising updates etc? 
  • What’s the most recent piece of constructive feedback you received? What did you take from it? 
  • (For founders) I’d love to hear more about your personal story – tell me how [X company] started. 
  • Do you have an exit strategy? Or even a loose aspiration around exiting? 
  • What can I expect for you in terms of support?
  • How would you describe your leadership style? 
  • What support do you most need from me? 
  • Can you tell me about a time when you’ve made a decision in line with your values? 
  • What about a time when you’ve felt you’ve compromised your values? What were your reflections afterwards? 
  • Over the last year – what do you think was the biggest change that [X company have made for the better]? 

 

People team members

 

  • What’s different about working here than anywhere else you’ve worked? 
  • What motivated you to join [x company] and what keeps you here?
  • What would you say is going really well at the moment from a People + Culture perspective? What isn’t going so well? 
  • I’m curious about your interactions with the leadership team – how would you describe your working relationship? Have they ever blocked an initiative you thought was much needed? What was the rationale for doing so? 
  • What are your aspirations? If I was to join [X company] how would you like to be supported? 

 

Keep informed

More Resources

Interview Preparation Helpsheet

January 30th, 2023 | < 1 Min Read

Hiring your First Head of People

January 30th, 2023 | < 1 Min Read

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