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“What’s the salary?” A pertinent question, but there are more interesting ones


Let’s start with an unscientific but, I would guess, probably fairly accurate assumption: for candidates attending an interview for a new role, the number one question most people want to know the answer to is “what is the salary for this job?”. We know we should be asking about a company’s vision or its working environment. We might understand that specific duties and role expectations are important to hear about. We could very well be genuinely interested in the interviewer’s own opinion of working for the organisation. However, I imagine many people will still walk into that interview room with bottom-line remuneration and benefits as the primary question they’d like the answer to.


Now this is, of course, not to say that such a query doesn’t have a place – it clearly does – but I would like to suggest another important, albeit less-considered, question that candidates should also be asking of their prospective employer. That is the level of involvement and commitment of the organisation’s leadership in the whole recruitment process.


This is not necessarily a question you directly ask the interview panel, so much as a line of personal research about an organisation that you should certainly conduct as you move through recruitment stages. It might seem an unnecessary tangent in the midst of trying to remember an organisation’s mission and values, or their latest innovations and market moves, but it is arguably a better indicator of what the business will be like to work with day in, day out.


This is because of the obvious bearing the leader has over the entire business – from guiding the organisation’s work culture to being the person who sets the standards on the skills and abilities they seek in the managers hiring others. They are also the ultimate authority on all hiring (and firing) decisions, and it is they who will set the overall direction that successful recruits will need to start working towards. For better or worse, it is their influence that will ultimately have an overriding impact on your working life if you take up a particular opportunity. Getting a real sense of this in the early stages of recruitment will provide an excellent insight into what to expect later on.


Organisations should realise the importance of this too. Such aspects of a CEO’s influence are evident parts of their responsibilities anyway, but an organisational leader whose positive presence and influence are obvious even in the recruitment process will help provide an honest, positive impression of an organisation to prospective talent and the wider market.


Organisations are, in general, already waking up to the idea that the quality of their recruitment processes can have a great effect not only on the value of the recruits they get through the door, but also on the reputation of their brand as a whole. In a time where a single unsuccessful and disgruntled candidate can go viral with a tirade about their shoddy treatment, companies need to think more about how they handle applications. Aspects such as communicating effectively and regularly with candidates, providing feedback after interviews, and simply being clear on expectations and recruitment timeframes can make an enormous difference to the overall candidate experience.


Ensuring a leader is connected with this process is an important facet of this effort. Few candidates are likely to be enticed by the perception of a vague, aloof leadership that has little to do with the rest of the organisation. Neither will they find much appeal in the prospect of a company that appears to have an idiosyncratic approach to culture and workplace ethics that seems to change with every manager they speak to.


This doesn’t mean the CEO needs to swing by every entry-level candidate’s interview, but should mean leaders play a role in the development and implementation of their organisation’s overall talent management strategy. It won’t stop many interviewees going straight to the remuneration question, but it will provide a greater insight into the kind of company they might be joining.


Ahmad Badr is Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group (ADUKG).


Reference: The National