Turn the Tables: Ask the Right Questions at Your Next Job Interview
Ask the Right Questions at Your Next Interview
In your next interview, the difference between winning and losing could be smaller than you think. The ability to ask smart questions sets a candidate apart from the pack. When preparing for your interview, research the company and interviewer as thoroughly as possible. Come prepared to engage in a conversation. Demonstrate your ability to think, communicate, prepare, and deliver with questions that show you came to win.
Two Goals for Every Interview
It’s obvious that you’re there to impress the interviewer and land the job. But most candidates miss the second objective, which is just as important. You’re also there to determine if this employer is a good fit for you. How will you fit in? What’s it going to be like in this role, at this company, at this time?
How will you know?
You’ll know by the answers you get to the questions you ask.
Which Questions Should You Ask?
Your questions should focus on the company’s vision, your role in that vision, and the company’s expectations for you. What’s most important to the leadership of the team you’ll be working with? What values form the cornerstone of everything they do? What attributes describe a person who excels at the position?
Find out about the culture. What’s a typical day like? What results do they expect? How does what you’ll be doing fit into the overall picture of the organization’s success? What types of projects has a person in this role worked on in the past? Why does the person interviewing you like working here?
Ask for advice about what’s to come. This positions you as someone who confidently expects success. What’s the most important piece of advice your interviewer would give to someone starting this job today? What might surprise you about this role? How should you prepare to hit the ground running from day one?
Peek into the interviewer’s impression of you. What does the perfect candidate look like, compared to most of the people she’s interviewing? What are the most important attributes of the new hire that aren’t listed in the job description?
Which Questions Should You Avoid?
Not all questions are good ones, though. Do your research beforehand. Know the company, so you don’t cover ground that a 7th grade student can find in less than a minute of internet research.
Stay away from questions that focus on your life away from this particular role. How much time do you get off? How soon can you apply for a promotion? Can you change the scope of what’s expected of you? There’s a time and a place to discover details about pay, time off, and other details. This interview is not that time.
When to Ask Questions
In most interviews, you’re invited to ask questions near the end. Most don’t ask anything. Unless you’ve decided this job isn’t for you, come with something to ask. If you’ve gathered the info you need, ask a prepared question or two anyway. Otherwise, you’ll seem uninterested in the position and strike out.
Show you’re serious. Show that you value the opportunity and want the job. Questions position you as the one who wants it more in a crowd of people who couldn’t care less. When’s the right time? Your interviewer will queue you in on the right time.
Present yourself as the savvy, smart, sophisticated person this company needs to hire right now. At the same time, discover whether this position fits your career path. When you treat your interview as a conversation – not an interrogation – you put yourself and your employer at ease. Make the right impression. Ask quality questions at your next interview and get hired.
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—Vivian Adkins, Resume Writer at Foremost Resumes