Think you know candidates? What we learnt in 2018
From illegal interview questions to pay rise conversations and salary expectations, we uncover our most surprising candidate insights from the last 12 months.

1. Can you really ask that?

38% of candidates have been asked an illegal interview question. Amongst those who have, 89% answered the question they were asked.

READ: Illegal interview questions revealed

2. Anything but the truth 

37% of candidates believe that telling a lie is acceptable during an interview, with the most commonly accepted lie being the reason they are looking for a new job. This lie was considered acceptable to more than one in 10 (16%) job seekers.

READ: The most common lies candidates tell in interviews (and how to uncover the truth)

3. The robots are coming

It appears artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will have a more positive impact on the workforce as they become more understood. In fact, the reason one in five candidates say they don’t like AI is because they don’t understand it well. But, whilst candidates see the potential upside of AI, 57% think it’s important to limit how far we go with advances in AI at work.

LISTEN: Hear from Antony Ugoni, SEEK’s Director of AI & Analytics about the impact of of AI in the workforce.

4. Great (salary) expectations

17% of candidates expect to earn more than $70,000 in their first career job and 42% expect to earn $50,000 or more. This indicates that there may be some disconnect between actual entry role salaries and expectations of career income starting points.

READ: Find out what to do when an employee asks for a pay rise

5. Money talks

52% of candidates have never directly asked an employer for a pay rise and 31% indicate that they are unlikely to ask for one in the future. This may come as a surprise as 58% of candidates believe they are underpaid - indicating that the discomfort of having a conversation about salary may be a strong barrier to doing anything about it.

WATCH: Hear from Starcom and PwC about how to set salary expectations with your staff

6. The value of flexibility

Aside from salary, flexible working hours is the top non-financial benefit (42%) that appeals to candidates. Conversely, a lack of work-life balance is the second more popular reason why employees may leave their current role.

VIEW: The top 5 non-financial incentives to reward your workforce

7. Pay cuts for work-life balance

Many candidates have taken pay cuts in the past, and most would consider it in the future. Interestingly, 61% of Kiwis who voluntarily took a pay cut did so for improved work-life balance.

READ: The real definition of work-life balance (according to candidates)

8. Is your job ad in the ‘too hard’ basket?

Two in three candidates (68%) have gotten to the stage where they see a job they want to apply for, but have not gone through with applying. The most common reason for this were a lack of clarity in the job description (including missing salary details) and uncertainty in being able to meet skills/experience requirements.

READ: Job ad writing: The good and the bad

9. The feedback loop

Only 45% of candidates are confident applying for a job. Just one in five are confident monitoring the status of their application (22%), and only a third know what happens to their job application after they’ve applied online (34%). Importantly, 54% of candidates suggest that a key pain point is ‘not hearing back from employers’ regarding a job application.

READ: The importance of closing the loop with candidates

10. Wellness at work

More than half of candidates have felt the need to take a mental health day, but haven’t actually done so. Two in five (44%) have lied when taking a day off for their own mental health, despite most (84%) agreeing that their colleagues should be allowed mental health days. 

READ: How managers can support mental health in the workplace

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4,000 New Zealanders annually