Congratulations; you’ve successfully negotiated the obstacle course of the job application process. You have now found yourself steering your way through the long-awaited job interview, and the finish line is just ahead. However, there is just one last issue to overcome before you approach the end of the exchange.
“Do you have any questions for me?”
Everything that has previously transpired during your interview now hangs in the balance. No matter how stressful the situation has proven until now, do your very best to avoid answering with “No, I think you’ve covered everything. Hope to hear from you soon…” as you make your way to the door.
Needless to say, this is the make-or-break moment. At this moment, everything depends upon your next choice of words, and it’s your turn to do everything in your power to ensure they are well-chosen, intelligent, and proactive.
It is a requirement
There is no rule against having a little notebook in your lap during the course of the interview. It’s great for jotting down reminders regarding covered topics which you’d like to revisit with some of your own questions later during the conversation.
Somewhere in that book, however, you should keep a list of questions that you would like to address over the course of the interview. As the answers present themselves you can give the question a little tick mark. However, remember to not act overly or conspicuously focused on your own notes, as it’s important to remain engaged and focused on the interviewer.
Nevertheless, by the time that portion of the interview is over, you should inevitably have some unanswered questions, and herein lies your opportunity to shine by, a) demonstrating your interest, b) showing that you’ve done your homework, and c) gauging just how well the company fits your needs.
What should I ask?
Your choice of questions will depend largely on the job and the interviewer. S/he might be very forthcoming and cover a great deal of territory; however, there is always the possibility that s/he might also gloss over some parts that you think are vitally important.
Prepare at least one question that levels the playing field between you and the interviewer; one that feels like a commonness of purpose. Engaging them on a personal level not only makes them feel important, but gives them a chance to “be the expert.” Consider something like:
- What is it about ACME Inc. that keeps you here? What do you enjoy, or for that matter, is there anything you really dislike?
- Tell me about the company culture. What is the style or the feel that distinguishes it from other workplaces?
- What have we not discussed that you think would be important to know about working at ACME?
Putting yourself in the interviewer’s position, take some time to consider what types of questions would impress you. Consider this:
- If we agree that I’m a good candidate for this job, what can I do next that would move my name to the top of the list?
- What would I need to accomplish over the next three, six, or twelve months to convince you that you made a good hiring decision?
- What qualities are deemed important for an employee’s success at this company?
Asking about the history of the position will give you insights into its future. Typically one might ask:
- What became of the last person to hold this role?
Then build upon that with:
- Why are you excited about hiring a new person for this position?
Of course you also want to know if they’re a hands-off organization, who values independent-thinking, or rather a highly supportive, familial sort of organization where they won’t leave you to sink-or-swim. So give them a chance to elucidate with this question:
- Tell me about the management style at ACME.
If this is your dream company and you plan to spend a long time at ACME Inc., show it with questions that reveal long-term thinking and enthusiasm. Here are some ideas for you:
- What sort of support do you offer employees who wish to grow professionally?
- Do you support both internal and external training?
Last but not least, there is always one specific query that defines the last few steps of the overall exchange. Concluding with this particular question may allow your interviewer to reveal their timeline for the decision-making process.
- What are the next steps? When can I expect to hear from you?
What will best distinguish you from other interviewees is that you will not debase yourself by fleeing at the end of the interview and without asking well-planned, insightful questions. Hiring managers regularly complain that interviewees fail to ask important, necessary questions when offered the opportunity. This makes candidates appear apathetic, inattentive, or possibly unsuitable for the job. If you’re not questioning, you’re not growing.
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