When I teach career development classes, I often compare the interview process to dating. There’s the same nervousness, sweaty palms and anxious wondering. “Will they like me?” When interviews go well and the conversation is flowing, it can often feel like good chemistry!
Think about how you feel when you’re preparing to go on a date. You want to show your best side, right? You might watch the news to make sure you’re up on current events, or check social media for recent witticisms to drop in the conversation should things suddenly get quiet. If the evening goes well and you find yourself smitten, chances are you’ll end up chattering away, wanting to know all sorts of things about your new object of affection.
Asking questions in a job interview should feel a little like preparing for that date. It tells your interviewer that you care enough about the process to determine if it’s a good match. Remember – you are there to determine if the job is right for you, just as much as they are there to figure out if you’re best for them! Asking questions shows you’ve done your homework, and are truly interested in exploring the potential of this new relationship.
Asking questions can also help you get an idea for what the role is really like. It’s one thing to read a job description on paper – but to be able to determine the culture of an environment or your manager’s real personality? That’s a bit trickier. These questions can help you get there. (No need to ask all ten, unless of course you want to chase your interviewer out of the room! One to three should suffice.)
1. What specific skills are you looking to add to your team?
If you can ask this one early in the interview, you’ll score bigger bonus points. You’re essentially asking your interviewer to tell you the type of person he/she is looking for. Once you know that they are, “looking for someone who is independent and self-motivated” you can tailor your stories to reflect all the ways in which you showed initiative and motivation at your last job.
2. How would you describe the company culture?
It’s hard to judge an environment or company culture simply from a job interview. Often times we don’t get the real feel of a place until we’ve been there a while. But asking this question can provide a glimpse. (And, most importantly, let you know your potential manager’s perspective on things.)
3. What’s one thing you wished you knew when you first started working here?
Another good way to gain insight and learn more about your potential boss!
4. What are your top 3 priorities for the upcoming (month/quarter/year)?
Knowing the answer to this will help you gain a better understanding of your possible workload.
5. Where do you see your industry heading in the next few years?
Are you in a growing industry or is the organization you’re interviewing with behind the times? Pay attention to this answer to learn more.
6. If I started working for you tomorrow, what’s one thing I could do to make an immediate impact?
People sometimes make the mistake of asking questions in an interview that are too self-serving. For example, “When do I start earning vacation time?” or, “What kind of training will I get?” By shifting the focus to what you will give rather than get, you demonstrate the fact that you understand you are being hired to solve a problem(s).
7. What surprised you the most about this past year?
It may take your interviewer a moment or two to answer this one. Think of it as a unique way to learn something new about the organization.
8. Can you share some examples of recent success stories?
This gives the interviewer a chance to “sell” the company to you and highlight what’s good about working there.
9. What is the greatest challenge your company is facing at the present time?
This is another way to “read between the lines” and gauge the future health of the place you want to work.
10. How do you see the values of the company embodied in everyday life?
Be careful with this one, as it may throw your interviewer off a tiny bit. Reading the organization’s vision or values statement on the website may be fresh in your mind, but remember that the person talking to you is most likely juggling an overflowing to-do list and may not recall that statement word for word. One way to make this easier is to mention the specific values in your question. For example, “How does the company show its commitment to world class customer service in everyday life?”