Should we provide candidates their interview questions well before the interview commences?

I’m just going to throw this question out there…what do you think about giving interview questions to a job candidate ahead of the scheduled interview? We’ve all been there, in that seat nervously awaiting a host of questions that will ultimately determine if we are the right candidate for the job. So often we have walked out kicking ourselves for omitting to highlight key achievements, thus failed to present ourselves in the best light. Yet if we knew the questions we were going to be asked beforehand, we would be able to prepare better and present better.

I think this approach is particularly suitable for junior roles. Junior candidates are not well practiced at interviews and their inexperience results in them not being able to effectively relay how they operate in situations.  If given the opportunity to prepare, these candidates could confidently demonstrate how they have managed competing priorities, or dealt with a difficult customer. Many candidates entering the job market for the first time feel overwhelmed and allow their nerves to get the better of them. Consequently we glean more about their presentation skills than their ability to perform. And don’t we want to know about what they have done, how they did what they did and the results of their actions? Isn’t that what is important to determining how they will perform in the role we are looking to fulfil?

Levelling the playing field by supplying interviewees their interview questions beforehand will give an interviewer a better quality response. This rings true providing what you prepare are situational questions. It is extremely difficult for an interviewee to fabricate their experiences, especially since what they say will prompt further questions and clarification from the interviewer. This method also helps to determine those that have taken the time to actually prepare and those that haven’t, again giving you an insight into how they may perform in the vacant role. You may even find that candidates that aren’t prepared to undertake the necessary preparation will opt out of the interview, identifying who is a serious candidate and who is not.

I’ve noticed that some candidates grab onto one particular example and use this to answer all questions to validate their ability to perform. Generally it’s because they are nervous and are struggling to recall all of their past accomplishments. If given the opportunity to prepare for specific situational questions, they would be able to provide a more diverse array of responses, demonstrating a depth of experience and growth over their career.

You don’t need to provide a candidate with the full suite of questions, only those most pertinent to the tasks and responsibilities of the role on offer. Clarifying questions upfront allows for responses comparable to the position’s needs, revealing more to the candidate about the nature of the role beyond what the job advertisement may. Illustrating expectations early on may also drive employee engagement.

While providing interview questions to candidates ahead of time is not common practice, how would you react if an interviewee asked you to provide the questions prior? It seems an unlikely request, however candidates are often give other details such as the position description, who will be interviewing them, and can find information on the interviewing company online, so why not go one step further and give them the questions they will be asked? What advantage would one actually garner?

Providing interview questions to candidates ahead of time will enhance an interviewer’s ability to assess each applicant’s suitability to the role. Attracting and selecting the right candidate is difficult enough, so why not employ yet another tactic to reduce the uncertainty and hasten the recruitment process? Yet who of you will be so daring to take this uncommon action?


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SJ Personnel offer recruitment and HR services to businesses and candidates throughout Geelong, Surf Coast, The Bellarine and western Victoria region

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