The power of questions

If you’ve been reading business journalism for even a few weeks, you know that people love to write articles about the importance of asking good questions. This is not how people at the top of businesses tend to think — they want answers more than questions, often — but the theory goes that good questions identify core problems and create better processes. Often, this is true. In a Fast Company article a few years back on crowdsourcing, productivity expert Jason Womack even admitted that a core work skill lacking in modernity is the ability to ask good questions.

This is entirely problematic in recruiting, and we see it all the time. Recruiting is a complicated mix of art and science, without a doubt. You have to consider availability, location (perhaps less so with COVID), compensation, cultural fit, and a host of other factors — and often within strict time windows. It’s not easy. 

But, the problem is that we make it harder for ourselves than we need to, oftentimes. We dive into calls and open requisitions without proper context, or we don’t attempt to pin a hiring manager down. We rely on scribbled notes as opposed to the power of the cloud. We set ourselves up to not be as successful as we should. 

What we want to do here is simplify two aspects of the recruitment process for you:

  1. Questions to ask a hiring manager before you start searching
  2. Questions to ask a candidate before you get off the phone the first time

Questions for Hiring Managers

The Basic Questions

  • What is the job title?
  • Who will this person report to? 
  • What is the department?
  • What are the expected daily tasks?
  • Have you ever had someone in this role before?
    • If yes: What were the pros/cons of them in the role?
    • If no: Move along.
  • What are the main responsibilities?
  • Are any credentials or advanced degrees needed?
  • Is it overtime-eligible?
  • What would be the time off availability for a new hire?
  • What about benefits?
  • What is the overall compensation?

The Second Tier

These questions allow you to understand the team better, which can help when having early conversations with candidates. It also gives you a little bit of color to use when writing job descriptions or posting about the job online:

  • How would you describe the culture of your team?
  • What is the current average tenure of your existing team?
  • Where could this job evolve to in 1, 3, and 5 years?
  • What is the best project your team has completed in the past year?
  • What was the most challenging project of the past year?
  • Give me three adjectives to describe your team.
  • How important is collaboration?
  • What tech stack tools are used on your team?
    • How proficient do you want candidates to be with these tools?
  • How would you see your team/department changing in the next year? 
  • Does this role overlap with any other existing roles?
  • Does this team socialize outside of work together?
  • What are the big events or touchpoints of a year on this team (trade shows, campaign rollouts, etc.)?
  • When is the “busy season?”
  • Is it OK to “bring your whole self to work” or is this team more about getting the work done? 

Questions to ask candidates

We’ll do this similarly — basic tier and second tier.

Basic Tier

  • Where are you located?
  • Could you move for this role, or be comfortable working remotely?
  • What is your expected compensation?
  • How did you find out about this job and what interested you?
  • What is your timeframe for potentially starting?
  • Do you have experience in {job requirements, tech stack elements}?
  • Why are you leaving your current job or what is your current situation?

Second Tier

  • What skills do you see as bringing to this position?
  • How long have you been in this industry, and/or what is relatable from other industries?
  • How have you overcome professional adversity in the past?
  • How have you dealt with behavior from managers and coworkers that you don’t agree with?
  • How would coworkers describe you?
  • How would bosses describe you?
  • How do you handle tight deadlines?
  • What’s the best project you’ve ever worked on and why?
  • How do you know when a project is successful?
  • What are your interests outside of work?
  • What other questions do you have for me?

And now, the magic of Tier 3

By “Tier 3” in this case we mean questions that wouldn’t normally be asked on a first interview — more technical questions that a hiring manager typically asks on a later-round interview. But it’s possible for a recruiter on a screen to get to a “Tier 3” question involving tech stack or specialized knowledge, especially with a platform like Honeit. Because all the answers are recorded, the hiring manager can still evaluate the responses and thus save time on needing a massive amount of additional rounds. Time = money in business. It’s a good thing.


If you have any questions about how this all works, look at some of our testimonials, explore our platform, or feel free to talk to us about a demo or free trial. Honeit was created and designed by recruiters for recruiters — and the goal is to bolster relationships with hiring managers, candidates, data, and the overall organization. With Honeit, recruiting becomes a value-add instead of a logistical function that hops from call-to-call. We’d love to help you grow your recruiting function strategically.