IBM CEO, Arvind Krishna.
Brian Ach / Stringer / Via Getty
- Recruiters expect candidates to ask them questions during a job interview, said this IBM recruiter.
- Jenny Taylor said it’s impressive when candidates ask what she thinks about the CEO, Arvind Krishna.
- “Those are really good questions and show in-depth research,” Taylor told Insider.
Job interviews aren’t just about applicants answering questions – recruiters want candidates to quiz them in return. Sometimes, the tougher the question, the better.
“I always ask them, ‘why do you want to apply at IBM?’ because that’s an easy one to start with. But I like to ask them if they have any questions for me,” Jenny Taylor, graduate, apprenticeship and student programme leader for IBM UK told Insider. “That tells me quite a lot about how much they have thought about the company.”
Taylor joined IBM in 1985 and leads its early careers recruitment in the UK. Over the years she said she’s developed her own technique for spotting just how much interest candidates have in a role and in the company.
Many of the questions people often ask are quite standard, Taylor said. For example, the terms and conditions, where they’ll be working or what their role will involve. However, she said it’s most impressive when candidates ask her a question that she can’t answer.
“The ones I like are when they have actually read up, so they’ll quote something our CEO [Arvind Krishna] has said strategically and then ask me what I think about it,” Taylor said.
“Those are much harder to answer, but those are really good questions and show in-depth research.”
Taylor said that she will often ask candidates some probing questions, in order to determine the depth of their knowledge.
“They might mention: ‘oh, well, I know, IBM is an AI and cloud [computing] company’. So I could then ask a probing question about AI and for a specific example of what IBM has done,” Taylor said.
Likewise, if they say they like IBM’s ethics, or the fact that it’s a diverse company, can they point to anything specific they have read, Taylor adds.
IBM UK is currently hoping to recruit 150 interns and 150 apprentices as part of its next cohort. Applications for graduate roles will open in the fall, Taylor said.
It becomes clear in an interview when a candidate has read up on a company, Taylor said.
“Research the company because we certainly check that people are applying to IBM because they know about IBM and not because it’s just some corporate they might have heard of or they’re just going through a list of companies, cutting and pasting the same application,” she said.
Recruiters say that it’s good to ask questions at the end of an interview in order to double check whether there is anything about your resumé or qualifications they would like you to clarify.
Asking them what kind of leader they are or what they think are the challenges you might face in the role can be good things to ask.
However it’s not simply about impressing the recruiter – probing for ‘red flags’ can help you understand whether you want to work for a company or not.