A Hiring Manager’s Guide to Gracefully Handling Unexpected Interview Questions

A Hiring Manager's Guide to Gracefully Handling Unexpected Interview Questions

As a hiring manager, there may be times when you must handle unexpected interview questions. These may be questions you asked a candidate or that a candidate asked you.

Because you typically do not ask or answer such questions, you may be caught off guard during these times. Fortunately, there are ways to gracefully handle unexpected questions. These tips can help.

Use this hiring manager’s guide to gracefully handle unexpected interview questions.  

Interview Questions About a Resume Gap

If a candidate has a significant resume gap, you likely would ask what caused the gap and what they did during this time. One response could be that the candidate was incarcerated.

In this case, take a moment to collect your thoughts. Also, consider whether the role the candidate is interviewing for requires a clean record.

If the position requires passing a background check, let the candidate know. Then, ask whether they would be interested in learning about other opportunities with your organization.

Provide time for the candidate to consider your question. Then, respond accordingly.

Interview Questions About Compensation

If a candidate asks about compensation, you may be aware that your budget offers less for the role than current market rates. Or, you might discover that your top compensation is well below the candidate’s expectations.

In either case, you can talk with the candidate about your compensation range. If the candidate expects a higher amount, you could offer a signing bonus or additional benefits to make up the difference.

If the candidate offers no flexibility in compensation, let them know you are too far apart in terms of pay.

Thank the candidate for their time and let them know the interview is done.

Interview Questions About the Job

If a candidate asks questions about job duties, requirements, qualifications, or other details that are irrelevant to the role, they might not understand what the position entails. Perhaps the details listed in the job description are different from what the role involves. If so, the candidate’s expectations likely will not be met.

In this case, you should ask the candidate follow-up questions to clarify what they mean. If you discover that the candidate was misinformed about the job description and expectations, provide additional insight into the role.

If the candidate still is interested, continue the interview. If not, thank the candidate for their time and end the interview.

If the job description is inaccurate, be sure to update it. Keep in mind that the job postings must be updated to reflect accurate information.

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