9 Questions to Uncover Candidate Motivations & Preferences

Uncovering candidate motivations, expectations and work-life preferences such as geographical and commuting predilections are just a few of the topics covered in this month’s must-ask interview questions. Provided by Larry E. Eason, President, JRL Executive Recruiters & V.P. JRL Engineering Consortium Ltd., we explore nine of the questions he has employed throughout his 36-year executive search career.

Interview Question: Why are you looking for a new career opportunity? 

Why It Works: This question can bring the conversation to a halt. This is particularly true if the candidate exudes dissatisfaction with their current boss’s leadership style or company culture that mirrors qualities of the manager or company for which they would be hired.

Conversely, it may provide intel into motivations that align well with the new opportunity. Perhaps the candidate currently works in a stifling environment, where growth and change are discouraged. The hiring company may offer just the solution they need—a platform for innovation, transformation and growth!

Interview Question: If unemployed, when was your last day worked?

Why It Works: This question helps pin down vague ending dates on the candidate’s resume. For example, if the recruiter is interviewing someone who separated from their last role in 2018, it will help confirm whether they left in January or December. 

Interview Question: What is your base salary, bonus or other company benefits? What are your expectations? 

Why It Works: In order to successfully collaborate with a recruiter—and to help them negotiate on the candidate’s behalf, candidates may want to disclose current compensation as well as future compensation goals. This can be particularly valuable to prepare the candidate if the salary expectations are a big leap forward from where they have been. This also will enable the recruiter to properly match candidates with the right hiring company prospects, decreasing chances of either party being blindsided and to maximize everyone’s time.

RELATED: 15 Interview Questions to Ensure Candidate Quality

Interview Question: Where will you relocate for the right career opportunity? List states or regions. 

Why It Works: This information will ensure geographical fit so that the recruiter can more aptly marry candidate experience and talent with a company in states/regions where they are a likely fit. 

Interview Question: Are there states or regions you absolutely will not consider in relocation? 

Why It Works: While the answer to question four may elicit a fairly sweeping overview of options, question five will help narrow the possibilities, eliminating those areas that a candidate otherwise might not have disclosed. This way, when future opportunities in specific regions arise, candidates who absolutely would not consider relocating there will not be sought out—saving time and energy for three key parties: candidate, recruiter and hiring company. 

Interview Question: How far will you commute? Do you prefer urban, suburban, or rural?

Why It Works: The value of this question is to determine if the candidate has visceral feelings about certain-length commutes. As well, do they parlay a particular affinity—or repulsion—to certain areas? Urban areas are known for high population density and infrastructure of build environment while rural areas are typically located outside towns and cities with low population density. Knowing the candidate’s geographic desires can help to match them with the right fit location, better focusing interactions between all parties in the interview process.

RELATED: How to Create an Ideal Employee Benefits Package

Interview Question: Have you set up a list of professional references? It’s important to list email addresses on your reference list in case they leave a present location, and you need to reach them in the future.

Why It Works: While candidate references generally are not called upon early in the interview process, when they are requested, it generally means the candidate has been promoted to the candidate short list. An offer may be imminent. Having a current overview of meaningful references is advised in order to keep the process chugging along. In today’s digital world, and with ongoing work-life mobility, having current email addresses – even LinkedIn URLs and other modes of connecting with references–is advisable. Asking this question early on helps ensure there are no delays during the final critical stretch of the interviewing and hiring process.

Interview Question: If your present employer presented a counteroffer, would you accept it? 

Why It Works: While the recruiter may take the position that it is counterproductive for a candidate to accept a counteroffer by their present employer, the candidate may not think similarly. It is important to get this topic out on the table early on and make future interview determinations based on the candidate’s thought processes and intentions.

Interview Question: May we share your resume with our affiliate offices that may also have opportunities available? 

Why It Works: Candidates granting permission to share their resume across additional recruiting offices helps expand the potential opportunities for both the recruiter and candidate.

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