Influenced by economic uncertainty and rising costs, the latest UK Report on Jobs, commissioned by the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) and KMPG, suggests a worrying time ahead for the region’s job market.
Perhaps most ominous, the report highlights a fall in overall demand for new starters for the first time since February 2021. While the contraction is marginal, underlying data reveals a fresh but slight reduction in permanent vacancies, with demand for temporary staff moderated to a four-month low.
It appears to be the public sector that is taking the biggest hit, declining at a far steeper rate than individual or shareholder-owned businesses. In the private sector, a modest number of the 400 recruitment professionals feeding into the survey reported an uptick in clients exploring temporary staffing solutions as an alternative. Rising at a gentle pace, the figures also suggest that permanent vacancies are increasing in five of the ten employment categories, which suggests all is not lost. However, with businesses undoubtedly nervous, the result is a labour market that appears to be in a precarious position once again.
From a recruiter’s viewpoint, while we are seeing companies show a willingness to become more adaptable in their hiring strategy, there has not been a significant shift in the landscape toward temporary placements in the North East and so it will be fascinating to see if this trend continues.
Diving deeper into the report it is not all doom and gloom. There are some green shoots evident for employers who will be pleased to discover the pressure that has been building to offer inflated starting salaries is beginning to ease thanks to gradually rising candidate availability.
Regional and sector variations play a pivotal role in understanding the nuances, but anecdotal evidence from our region suggests that redundancies, increasing unemployment, and slowing market conditions are significant contributors.
In its summary, the REC reasoned that the market is finding the bottom of a year-long slowdown. The relative buoyancy of the private sector is likely to be driving this more positive outlook and while vacancies are reducing they remain robust for many industries with some sectors – hospitality, engineering, logistics and healthcare – continuing to experience very strong and growing demand.
What is clear is that depending on where you stand, the recruitment landscape is a mixed bag of challenges and opportunities. Reinforced by ONS data, there is little doubt that companies are becoming slightly more hesitant to commit to new recruitment in a bid to limit uncertainty and control costs. Whether you view this as a temporary disruption or think it will lead to permanent change, there is certainly a need to face the challenges head-on.
As always, internally, a focus on the development of skills and staff retention is prudent. In the interim, slower wage growth should also ease pressure on employers as it is likely to lead to a reduction in the rise of inflation rates.
For anyone looking to navigate the job market as an employer or job seeker, my advice is to make sure you are partnered with an expert in your field. Someone who can guide you safely through the ambiguity.
Regardless of the conditions, to be successful, you need to demonstrate what it is that makes you stand out from the crowd and, as an experienced recruitment consultancy, we can offer you support and expertise to help you find the best path forward.
Summer is a time of relaxation, a chance to unwind and recharge our batteries. It also offers a rare opportunity to take a moment among the daily demands of work to reflect on our professional path and evaluate where we stand.
In my line of work, I often encounter people who have already decided to seek a new horizon. But let me be clear, taking stock and examining your career doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to move on. In fact, what I am suggesting is simply about taking responsibility and holding yourself accountable for ensuring your ambitions are aligned with your personal goals.
Granted, finding time for introspection amid a busy and contented life is not easy. However, it is precisely during these periods of contentment that we should evaluate our direction and progress to ensure our careers remain fulfilling. Summer gives us the extra time and space needed to reflect on this and our aspirations.
So, where do we begin? Start by asking yourself some fundamental yet pivotal questions. Are you excelling in your field? Does going to work bring you joy? Are you happy with your work-life balance? Do your values align with your colleagues and does your company’s mission still ignite your passion?
Ask yourself when the last time was that you received a performance appraisal or sought feedback from your boss. Can you outline your key objectives for the next 3, 6 and 12 months, or have they evolved since your last discussion with your manager? Being aware of these changes and maintaining open communication is essential, as your line manager will have a significant impact on your future promotion prospects.
Assuming you aspire to continue growing and developing professionally, consider the new skills you’ve acquired over the past year. Are you actively expanding your knowledge base? Are there any courses or support systems available to help your personal and professional growth?
Moreover, when was the last time you refreshed your CV? Keeping an eye on the job market not only reveals enticing opportunities but also ensures you understand your own value – especially if you have remained with a single employer for a significant period.
Even the most exceptional jobs can lose their appeal over time. Sometimes, you do need a change or a fresh challenge to reignite your passion. However, before diving into a job search, make sure you think carefully about your current role, employer, and prospects. And be honest with yourself but remember that work will never rival the joy of spending time with your loved ones, so be realistic and kind to yourself too.
To find genuine happiness, I firmly believe you need to discover a purpose in your work that aligns with your long-term goals. This requires understanding what truly matters to you in life. When your strengths align with this purpose, determining your next steps becomes more natural, and the power to make it happen lies with you.
So, embrace the summer as more than just a season of leisure. Use it to unlock new and exciting career opportunities that match your aspirations. Take charge of your professional journey, and let the sunshine illuminate your path to fulfilment.
This year, instead of merely dreaming of distant shores, why not use this break to embark on a fulfilling journey of self-discovery?
It never ceases to amaze me how small the North East business community can appear. For the most part, I believe this is one of our major strengths, but when it comes to searching for a new job, the closeness of the professional community places added emphasis on how you behave at every stage of the process.
From the initial allure of a new opportunity to attending a job interview and how you exit a business, the commitment and integrity you show to current and future employers has the potential to propel your career forward or leave a mark on your professional standing for some time to come.
So, what is the best thing to do if you start to get itchy feet? Well, the natural temptation is to quickly pull together a CV, fire up an online job board and begin submitting applications to see if you can secure an interview. If that sounds like you, before you go any further, I suggest you pause for a breath and take the time to work out exactly what it is that you are not happy about.
Ask yourself what the reasons are you want to leave your current role. Would you like to solve the issues and stay? Are you convinced it’s time for a change and genuinely ready to start a new chapter in your career?
If you think some factors can be adjusted and will make a positive difference, I encourage you to be brave and speak openly with your line manager. Whatever the motivation for change – money, progression, culture, work-life balance – it is better to understand the scope for this to happen before committing to speculatively attend an interview or use a job offer as leverage when you kick-start the conversation. No employer – current or future – will ever thank you for that.
And with plenty of exciting opportunities around, good people do not stay on the market for long so, while the conversation might seem daunting, whatever the outcome, you will have been honest and transparent from the outset. Whether you ultimately stay or go, you will have conducted yourself professionally and maturely and gained respect in the process.
In contrast, opting for what seems to be the less confrontational route of finding a new role, resigning and hoping to hear how important you are and that your employer can grant you that elusive pay rise and the flexibility for remote working is the type of negotiation that only serves to erode trust.
In my time as a recruiter, I’ve seen many people surrender to a flattering counter-offer. Again, it’s the easier choice but invariably in those cases, the true problems don’t go away. Once your employer is over the short-term worry of losing you, often, the way they view you will change; particularly when it comes to future promotions and salary reviews.
This is why it pays to be authentic and true to whatever course of action you choose. There is profound wisdom in embracing a commitment to your employer until you have explored all the options and are genuinely sure it is the right thing to move on.
When embarking on the recruitment process without a commitment to it, you have to consider your long-term career and reputation which is on the line anytime a prospective employer invests in you by meeting or offering you the chance to join their team.
And while people understand when an offer is turned down in favour of an alternative move, how you behave will affect the opportunities available next time you come to the market. Staying with your existing employer can leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths. Nobody appreciates feeling like they have had their time wasted and your reputation and integrity are hugely important in a place as connected as the North East.
When speaking with clients, there is one question I am repeatedly asked: Why are we struggling to recruit?
It’s an ongoing challenge, and a topic for a good, honest conversation but, in the past month or two it has moved higher up the agenda as businesses seek to understand why they are not attracting the right candidates and more importantly, what we can do to find solutions.
Right now, there simply aren’t enough quality people to go around and, when your company is hiring, that means you can often find yourself sharing what you believe is an attractive opportunity, but you can’t seem to find the right person.
When recruitment is an add-on to your role and you’re struggling to fill a vacancy, it can be difficult to work out why, so I’ve pulled together my thoughts on the most common issues, and what you can do if you are in a similar position.
I cannot stress the importance of speed enough when recruiting. Not only does it create a good impression about how your business operates, but it also shows you are interested in the candidate and decisive. This means you are less likely to lose out to another firm. The only potential drawback is if you move too fast without understanding how far along the “changing jobs” journey someone is, however, this can be overcome with some sensitivity.
When someone attends an interview, if they don’t warm up to the host, it doesn’t matter how good your company or the opportunity is. If people don’t like who they meet – and have options – they will not take the job. You need the first point of contact to be an enthusiastic advocate for your business. Someone who will put people at ease, can sell the opportunity and workplace well, and is confident, friendly and a good communicator.
This extends to the interview format and what works best. Consider how many people meet the candidate. You shouldn’t need more than two, as it makes the meeting less appealing for the candidate to open up and harder to create a personal connection.
Tests to quantify values or competency need careful consideration in terms of timing. If personality is key, you may want to assess it before the interview. A technical test alongside an interview will unnerve many applicants, so is best managed carefully; with the reasons for the test explained.
Be Flexible with Experience
With the absence of the ideal candidate, my advice is to be flexible in the experience you consider. Have an open outlook toward training in some areas if you find a person who is the right fit culturally or has needs that require a certain level of flexibility on your part. As a guideline, I’d recommend you don’t dismiss a CV if it includes more than 60% of what it is you need.
What exactly are you offering people and, perhaps more importantly, does it align with what they see as an attractive work-life integration? The answer may well depend upon your age and outlook. What was once typical is no longer desirable for many. If you want someone in the office 9 to 5, five days a week, you will struggle to fill your vacancy. Again, flexibility is key, as you may need to consider different working patterns just to measure up to your competitors.
You may note that salary has not been mentioned. It goes without saying that you need to be competitive and know what the market rate is, as, if you do, money is rarely the reason a candidate will turn a good opportunity down.
In a difficult market, with technical shortages that aren’t going away, you have to be realistic and open to changing your approach. Whilst there is no silver bullet to solve your staffing problems overnight, these key areas should certainly help.
Have you ever gone through the recruitment process and found the ideal candidate only for them to reject your job offer?
In a perfect world, everyone would agree to join your team, but the truth is that this is an all-too-common problem for employers and a growing issue in what has become a heavily candidate-driven job market.
From my experience, when talented accountancy professionals begin to look for a new challenge in public practice, they very quickly discover they have plenty of choices; often before they’ve even convinced themselves that they genuinely want to change their role.
In contrast, when employers uncover a candidate who appears to be a great fit for their team, due to the lack of available people, they tend to act quickly. While showing early intent is the right thing to do, it is also important to remember a candidate in demand needs time to build a connection with your business before they will choose you. They need to understand why your organisation is the right place for them to progress in their career, rather than going elsewhere.
So, how do to swing the decision in your favour? The first thing I suggest is to review your current recruitment process.
Begin by asking yourself whether an hour-long interview is the right format for someone to decide whether they want to spend 37 hours+ every week with you and your team. I’m not sure it would be enough for me, but your recruitment process is probably more in-depth than that already. Even so, this question is a good place to start.
With online interviews continuing in popularity, another consideration is whether people have met face-to-face. Have they seen the working environment first-hand, or spoken to any of the other employees they could be working with?
A lot of people make their final decision based on the emotions they felt during the interview process. That is why it is important to make sure it is fit for purpose. Even if this is more time-consuming, trickier to arrange, or requires a little longer to plan, once you have a two-way process in place that allows you to get what you require from the candidate but also connect with them on an emotional level and share the benefits of working in your business, you should begin to see acceptance rates climb.
There are other factors that you can influence to improve your appeal. If you suffer from low job acceptance rates, a good approach is to tackle the issue head-on and spend time trying to understand why candidates have previously turned you down.
Your recruitment partner will be able to help with this, but knowing whether the rejection is commonly down to salary and benefits, the role itself, personal restrictions (i.e. commute), a bad feeling about the company culture, or simply a better offer elsewhere, will help you to remedy problems going forward.
Rethinking your initial screening process can also lead to being able to spend more time with the right people at the interview stage and beyond. Benchmarking your salary and benefits against competitors will help you to be more competitive with your offers.
If you are keen on a candidate, you should always invite them for a second meeting. Even if it is for an informal coffee or a tour of the office, it will give you both a chance to dive a little deeper, to ask questions that don’t always fit well in an initial interview, and it will also give them a chance to see potential colleagues and get a feel for working in your business.
Whatever your recruitment plans, the most important thing is to ensure that you treat candidates with respect and communicate with them effectively and honestly from the outset. Being genuine will go a long way toward building trust; something that is critical when it comes to making a final decision.
As the new year unfolds with economic uncertainty, the job market finds itself on unfamiliar ground. Typically, a fiscal slowdown like this would suggest that the number of people looking for a new role will soon diminish, alongside job vacancies.
Currently, while there is a significant rise in people feeling anxious about moving to a new job, the pressure businesses are under to deliver means we are continuing to see high levels of hiring demand and an even more pronounced emphasis on the quality of recruitment.
“Demand for staff continued to increase across the North of England at rates which exceeded those seen in the rest of England … Job openings rose at their fastest rates for three months, with temp billings rising for the first time in three months in December. We also saw increases in starting salaries across the North.”Neil Carberry, Chief Executive, REC
With such a complex and challenging labour market, where the best candidates hold all the power, the competition for talent will only become fiercer. This is why, if you believe that people are your greatest asset, there are many benefits to be found from working closely with a trusted recruitment partner:
Identify hard-to-find talent
Not only can recruitment specialists help you to find and attract the right candidates for your business, our deep understanding of the recruitment process and connections throughout the wider industry mean that we can often source (and approach) people who are right for a role but otherwise could not be found.
Provide market insight & analysis
At a time when recruitment is more competitive than ever, recruitment consultants offer invaluable insight into the current market, trends and best practices. Not only will this help you to hire, but it will also improve your ability to retain valuable employees by benchmarking salaries and benefits and understanding what could drive them to search for a new challenge.
Save time and money
If recruitment isn’t your number one priority, it can become slow, difficult and, often, expensive. Managers can waste a lot of time sifting through unsuitable CVs or interviewing inappropriate candidates. A professional recruiter is trained to quickly assess candidates. We know what to look for, and what questions to ask, and can identify early warning signs. We also do the heavy lifting in terms of your time, arranging interviews quickly and efficiently, following up to collate candidate feedback, and helping you to negotiate salaries, all for your convenience.
Improve your “employer’s brand”
Few businesses invest the time and money it takes to develop a positive employer brand. By finding a trusted recruitment partner, you are empowering them to act as your ambassador, offering potential candidates an insight into what it’s like to work at your firm. Benefiting from the strength of the recruiter’s relationships, a partner should not only be able to address any arising concerns on your behalf, but they will also represent you as an employer of choice and strengthen your appeal.
Help you at every stage of the process
There is nothing worse than making a bad impression on a brilliant candidate. Working with a recruitment specialist gives you peace of mind. From preparing the job specification to advertising the role, searching for candidates, screening applicants, conducting first interviews, shortlisting CVs, arranging interviews, delivering feedback, managing negotiations, supporting candidates through their resignation and counter offers, and throughout the onboarding process. A trusted partner will help you at every stage.
In 2023, posting an advert on LinkedIn or an online job board and hoping for the best is not going to cut it. While working closely with a trusted recruitment partner will help you to streamline your processes and find the right people efficiently, it is about so much more than that. You need to find someone who knows your market and can become a trusted advisor for all of your recruitment needs.
As the year comes to a close, the recruitment industry is still dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic and post-pandemic.
In 2022, this resulted in a seismic shift in the dynamic between businesses, employees, and job seekers. With an ever-increasing demand to recruit the best people, the desire for organisations to streamline designations and operating structures – combined with an almost universal acceptance of remote working – has also opened geographical barriers that have historically hindered access to talent.
Furthermore, while the majority of industries are experiencing a comparative reduction in recruitment activity for the fourth quarter, this is projected to improve in March and April as employers continue to consider “right-sizing”.
As we approach 2023, having a clear and robust talent acquisition and retention strategy is critical.
Entire remote working roles are becoming more difficult to find, but the trend of allowing your team to work flexibly both in the office and at home will continue to become even more important if organisations want to keep existing talent and go beyond location to locate the best individuals for their team.
Because talent shortages will continue, the need to upskill employees will become a higher priority for many businesses dealing with staff and talent shortages. This method not only boosts workforce productivity, but also saves costs, increases employee satisfaction, reduces staff turnover, and, more often than not, creates a more collaborative and dynamic working atmosphere.
In many industries, the “Great Resignation” is not slowing down and, as cost-of-living issues continue alongside economic uncertainty, this affects recruitment. The retention of your best workers will become increasingly important. In summary, if you want to keep the finest, you must be willing to look after them and fight for them because the battle for talent is underway and it’s skilled people who have the upper hand.
The first impression you create for a prospective recruit has always been crucial but, with such fierce levels of competition for talent, it is more vital than ever to represent your company as one that values and supports its people. Take the time to assess the assistance you provide and, more importantly, how you plan to demonstrate it as part of a positive candidate experience, as this may make all the difference when a prospect has alternative options and a tough decision to make.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
It is widely accepted that a culturally diverse workforce fuels innovation and creativity, hence improving profitability. Currently, barely one in three businesses tracks candidate diversity, with gender and ethnic diversity indicators rarely employed. Similarly, companies frequently neglect socioeconomic diversity, but 2023 will see positive movement in this area, hopefully helping to erase any remaining unconscious bias in hiring.
As the first generation never to be without the internet takes on junior roles in the workforce, there will be an increasing expectation that everything is available online and at a fast pace. Highly collaborative, self-reliant and pragmatic, Generation Z values diversity, cooperation and connection, and wants to work from anywhere but also establish good relationships with their co-workers.
The perception of recruitment consultants is changing. The days of recruiters taking job orders and firing off CV after CV in the hope that someone resonates with you are long gone (I hope). That’s not how I have ever worked; instead, I find joy in putting the right people in the right places. It often means that, in addition to the job search, I wind up collaborating with organisations on a strategic level, serving as a sounding board and a source of recruitment knowledge, market insight, and salary guidance.
While we will continue to face uncertainty, concentrating on these trends will help you not only to develop a solid recruitment and retention strategy but also in hiring the right talent to capitalise on the possibilities that 2023 will bring, despite the talent shortage.
COVID not only changed the way we work, but it also altered the balance of power in the workplace.
In sync with the adoption of new technology, reduced travel, and shift in working models, one of the more surprising differences, as we came out of the epidemic, was a reversal of control in the workplace and, in particular, the recruitment market.
Following a low period for new vacancies, millions of people around the globe suddenly chose to reassess their priorities and, in many cases left their current roles in search of a better work-life balance. Simultaneously, firms began expanding quickly and, in an instant, power transferred from employers to employees.
With savvy leaders responding quickly to protect key recruits, they inadvertently opened an opportunity for people to strengthen their position at work by negotiating salary increases and more flexibility for their roles.
Without people to fill the rising vacancies, it meant that skilled workers could enjoy a position of power as they knew they could look elsewhere and quickly find someone willing to offer what they want.
The impact of the downturn
Fast forward to today, and as inflation soars and the cost-of-living rises, in real terms, many people are facing the equivalent of a pay cut.
Regrettably, the economic downturn is also pushing some firms toward redundancies as they restructure in the aftermath of rapid expansion. This has shifted the equilibrium of power back toward businesses.
As employers tighten their belts, several global companies are already flexing their newfound confidence by requesting to bring employees back into the office environment daily, which is a brave and significant cultural shift.
All things are not equal
If history is anything to go by, the impact of power moving back to employers will not be the same for everyone.
In the face of a global recession, typically it is lower-skilled roles or people starting out in their careers that are the hardest hit. As good jobs become trickier to find, experience takes over and becomes ever more important.
In contrast, where there remains an acute shortage of skills, competition for the best people will continue with top talent holding all the cards. That means in professional industries like practice accountancy, employees are likely to maintain a wide choice of roles and enjoy the opportunity to seek higher salaries and improved benefits.
What does it mean to you?
When the balance of power lies with employers, in general, the consequences will be unequal. Some workers will keep the flexibility and benefits they gained during COVID, while others will have to accept whatever their employer offers.
Whether this culminates in a return to pre-pandemic working conditions, I am not sure, as some of the changes made during that time will be difficult to reverse and motivationally detrimental.
If you are an employee currently at the grace of your employer, however, now might be a good time to consider returning to the office voluntarily. Creating closer bonds and spending more time face-to-face with your colleagues could be an important step toward feeling continually secure in your job and progressing during challenging times.
As an employer, if budgets are tight, it is greater flexibility that will soon become your key battleground for talent. Companies that remain conscious of employees’ needs will be the most successful at retaining and attracting talent so, even if you have the desire to reduce workplace flexibility, I suggest you are very careful when you approach it. The wider implications of being too aggressive are significant.
In the end, the best piece of advice I can offer is to try and find time to think about how you feel. What – apart from money – would attract you to join a company? Why would you stay with one? By putting yourself in someone else’s shoes you will make smarter decisions, and that is the best way to succeed.
Last month I spoke about questions to avoid asking in an interview. One of the most neglected aspects of interview success, this month, I’m exploring the questions that will give you the upper hand and help you stand out from the crowd.
When it comes to the end of an interview, the best approach is to ask four or five thoughtful questions that demonstrate you are serious about the role, have done your homework, and are someone who is proactive and will add value to the team.
While it is important to keep your eye on the clock, so you don’t overrun, you need to take the opportunity to impress with a series of smart, considerate, and well-researched questions or comments.
When pre-planning, it pays to consider your motivations. Whether it’s the company culture, professional development, or their approach to sustainability, the answers you get should help you to decide if the job and organisation are a good fit for you.
Learn more about the people interviewing you:
- Why did you decide to work for the organisation?
- What is your favourite part about working here?
- What excites you about the future of this company?
- What do you believe is necessary to succeed at the company?
- What are some of the company’s recent accomplishments?
Find out all you can about the role, making sure questions cover new ground:
- What are the first projects I’ll be working on?
- What are the most challenging aspects of this job?
- Are there any functions not mentioned in the job description?
- Do you expect any change to the role in the future?
- What training can I expect in my first week?
Look for a company culture that aligns with your values:
- Are there ambitious growth plans for the next few years?
- How has the company changed over recent years?
- How would you describe the culture of the office?
- Does the business help staff achieve a healthy work-life balance?
- Is there any volunteering or charitable service opportunities?
Training and development should be tied to personal career goals:
- How will my performance be measured?
- What do you hope I will achieve in the six months here?
- Is there support for professional development in this role?
- Does the role have a planned path for future advancement?
- When I have settled into the role, what opportunities are there for career growth?
The people you work with will have a big impact on your success and happiness:
- Can you tell me about the team I’ll be part of?
- What other departments will I work closely with?
- What are your biggest concerns about the team right now?
- How does the team contribute to the overall success of the business?
- Does anyone on the team get together outside of work?
An interview is a two-way process. With the knowledge gained in preparation, you should be ready to ask a selection of questions that not only interest you but show you are aware of the challenges and opportunities you will face in the new role.
The further along in the hiring process you are, the more crucial this becomes. Try to match the questions to the people you are speaking with and pitch the level accordingly.
Ultimately, businesses want to work with candidates who go above and beyond the basic requirements. By asking questions that show you fit that description, not only will you impress the interviewer, but it can also mean the difference between being offered the job and not.
When helping somebody to find a new job, I offer market and salary advice and support them with everything from their CV content to their interview technique, and contract negotiations.
Throughout the process, many factors can affect the success of a job search, but it is during the interview that both parties genuinely discover if the chemistry is right.
The best interviews are always a two-way affair where both sides are not only selling themselves but also deciding whether they think there is a future together.
From an applicant’s point of view, in my experience, it is the people who are prepared, have done the research, and are keen to make a good impression that comes out on top so, even if you’re not yet passionate about the business in question, you need to show you are.
Assuming all goes well, at the end of your interview you will be asked whether you have any questions for the interviewer. Never decline. By opting not to ask a question, the final impression you leave will be that you either weren’t engaged in the conversation or you haven’t done your homework and aren’t interested in the business.
It pays to think of questions beforehand, however, be careful what you say, as there are some questions you cannot afford to ask, including:
Something Google could answer.
A common mistake people make when trying to show a curious mind is asking more about what the company does, who the competition is, or what clients the firm works with. Any questions you could have conceivably discovered the answer to already need to be avoided. Before an interview, it is your job to learn as much as possible about the company and the last thing you want to do is to come across as being unprepared.
Anything salary or benefits related.
The terms of employment are yet to be discussed so, while you may think questions like “What would my starting salary be?”, “How often would I get paid?”, “When is the next performance review?”, “Would I get healthcare benefits?” show the employer that you are keen, the reality is that they only serve to make you look focused on the wrong things.
Questions starting with the word “Why”.
People are predisposed to take a defensive position when faced with a question beginning with “Why”. Instead, try to rephrase your queries to be less confrontational i.e., rather than “Why did the company do …”, try “What is your opinion on …”.
What happened to the person before me?
Knowing what happened to the previous person in a job is important but, as tempting as it may be, this is information your recruitment consultant should be able to supply and not something you need to ask. Hopefully, it will be offered during the interview but, if not, it is best to steer clear of the topic and pick it up with your consultant, as you don’t want to give the impression that you have concerns about the opportunity.
Do you monitor internet usage, work emails, or social media?
While a valid concern, this is something best left unsaid. Often, it gives the impression you have something to hide and, on a similar note, in the lead-up to an interview, it is also wise to review your social media accounts to make sure there is nothing critical of your current employer or any posts that could be conceived negatively when viewed out of context.
While most recruiters agree that “Thank you, but I don’t have any questions” is the worst possible response when the tables of an interview are turned, your goal is to build on the rapport you have created and ask a few smart and thoughtful questions that not only show you have been paying attention during the conversation, but you have done your homework.