What Questions to Ask During an Interview
By: Jordan Hicks
The fall in the economy has brought an influx of people in the job market. Once you've got the interview, here's some useful questions to consider asking for your own good.
The current economic state has quite a lot of people on the market for work again. Even those who are secure in their incomes are still looking for work because they are working jobs not relative to what they want to be doing. Warehouse managers who want to be marketers, insurance salesmen who want to be writers; its a sad turn of events. If you happen to be so lucky to find a job listing for the work you want to do, get through the application process, and actually be invited for an interview, you should be aware that interviews have changed. Interviews are no longer just for the company to get to know you, they are for you to get to know the company before you agree to be locked into a contract. They are also a chance for you to really show off your knowledge or skills to the company, something which might just land you the job ahead of your competitors, of which you’ll likely have many.
Don’t miss this chance to stand out. When the interviewer has finished with their standard set of questions, they’ll likely give you an opening to ask questions in return. Be prepared for the cross examination, and take the chance to deliver a little insight about yourself while you’re at it. Your questions should be designed to complete one or several of the following points.
Highlight your qualifications
Demonstrate your confidence
Reinforce your commitment
Understand the employer’s challenges
Make yourself accountable
Advance your candidacy
If you are clever, you will find a way to format your statements in the form of a question. While this may seem an unusual tactic to employ, it has in fact become a test in tact. See below for samples of questions you might ask during an interview. Ask about the company, details of the job, about the boss and team, and about the interviewer themselves, and when possible, try to work in some of the details of your previous experiences which show off those items we discussed.
Asking about the company can help you to clarify how the company functions and what sort of environment they foster. Questions such as “What new skills can I hope to learn here?” acknowledges that your don’t know everything, that you have both humility and potential, and are interested in furthering your current skill set. The person who asks this question is clearly seeking both knowledge and opportunity for advancement. Similar questions about the company include:
About The Company:
What characteristic does this company value the most, and how should my work further those values?
Can you give me examples of desirable and undesirable aspects of the company culture?
How does this company define success? How will success be defined for my position with the company?
How long is the average tenure of an employee?
Where would the company like to be in three years?
What can you tell me about the future plans for the company’s growth?
What is the largest problem facing the company, and how would I be in a position to help solve that problem?
What is holding the company back?
In what area could your team use a little polishing?
Does this company offer continued education or professional training?
Take the chance to clarify details about the position which you may not have garnered prior to the interview process. Asking how you can further the goals of the company from the position for which you are applying shows that you are concerned not only with the furtherment of yourself, but of the company as a whole.
About The Job:
Who previously held this position, and can you tell me why they are no longer here? How can I improve upon that?
What characteristics and skills would make for an ideal candidate?
Can you walk me through a day here within this position?
Is collaboration part of the job, and what processes are in place to allow that?
Will I be working with a team and if so, can you tell me about each member?
If hired, would I be going through any training before actually beginning the work? How will I be trained?
Whats the most important thing I could accomplish in my first 60 days with the company?
In six months, what will be the variables by which my accomplishments will be judged?
What are the performance expectations for this position? Will that change over time?
Is there a performance review process? Can you walk me through a typical one?
Am I going to be a mentor or will I be mentored?
Can you tell me about the career paths for this department and what sort of advancements I could work towards?
Now that we’ve discussed the job and my qualifications, do you have any concerns about my potential success in the position?
Asking details about the boss or supervisor and the interviewer shows interest in the how-to of the industry (assuming your interviewer actually works in the same type of work you will be working). As they are already employed in a position higher up the corporate ladder than you are currently applying, they have obviously already been where you are to some degree and may have some wisdom to pass on to you.
About The Boss:
Can you tell me about my direct supervisor?
Is there anything you can tell me about them that will make my integration smoother?
How did they get started in this field?
About The Interviewer:
How long have you been with the company?
What do you enjoy most and least about your work here?
What makes you good at your job?
How did you get your start?
What keeps you up at night? (To do with the company specifically, of course.)
At the end, consider, “This really sounds like something I would like to do, is there a good fit here?” or perhaps, “What is the next step in the hiring process, and when should I expect to hear back?” Further next step questions you might consider asking are, “By when do you hope to make someone an offer?” and “Whom should I contact if I have further questions?”
Tweak some of the questions presented here with particulars of the job for which you are applying. Shine them up till the polish shows your reflection. This is not for the faint of heart or timid, but they just might give you the edge you need to compete in today’s hyper-competitive work force. Just remember your real goal is to ensure the interviewer has no reservations about you, to demonstrate your interest in the job and the company, and to find out if the company and job are a good fit for you and the life you want.
Consider reading John Kador’s 301 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interview (McGraw-Hill, 2010) for more information, or look up Mike Simpson’s Interview Cheat Sheet for a quick reference guide.