7 Questions To Ask During Your Next Interview
April 1, 2012 • comment(s)
“ You ask great questions.” I received this feedback more than once in my last couple of interviews. I had a lot of questions.
A corporate recruiter had unexpectedly contacted me on LinkedIn after seeing my resume online. Since I was being found, I hadn’t done a lot of research on the company like I’ve done most others by the time I start interviewing or meeting with them. So there was much to learn about them.
Most often we already know everything that we need to by the time we get in front of a company. Of course, I’m assuming here that all recent graduates research their preferred companies before applying and getting into an interview. (This should be a crucial step in your job-hunting strategy.) And, in the past I would ask fewer questions. I wanted to look completely confident and knowledgeable. But I’ve realized that sharing those questions with recruiters and interviewers may actually signify a deeper interest in the company.
Part of your interview strategy should always be to show genuine interest and concern rather than blind eagerness. And asking questions is a great way to portray that. It’s also a great way to exhibit that you’re in control of the situation, that you’re not afraid to share what you don’t know and that you are genuinely searching for the best opportunity.
Here are just a couple of simple topics and questions that I threw out during an interview one morning that will help you start a genuine conversation with your interviewer that shows you’re interested, strategic about your choices and in control.
1) Ask for a detailed breakdown of your positions responsibilities Curb your expectations with real inside knowledge of the tasks you’ll be performing in your position. Not enough applicants take time to understand literal requirements and responsibilities of the position for which they’re applying. With this question out of the way your expectations remain realistic. It also fuels honest conversation and — my favorite parte — forces the recruiter to carry a little more of the conversation.
Purpose: Gather insight, Give yourself a breather during the interview.
2) If the company found you, ask why your resume was attractive? This was the first time I actually felt justified asking this question! Since I’d been found I knew it was appropriate to ask why I’d caught their eye. But honestly, anyone has the right to ask what’s most attractive about his or her resume. Companies ask why you’re interested in them to see whether your interests fit the opportunities they have. Likewise, you have the right to ask what was attractive about you to see whether their needs fit your greatest interests and strengths.
For example, when I asked the recruiter pointed to several things in my professional summary that I’d placed at the top because I was particularly interested in them and knew they were my greater strengths. Had she pointed to other things on my resume that I can complete but don’t feel utilize my true rockstar powers — the interview may have taken a different turn. This is also such a great control question. You have to have confidence to ask this question.
Purpose: Exhibit control and confidence, Gather insight
3) Will you have a direct manager? What is their managerial style? Managerial style is particularly important to me. Is your new director going to micromanage or be completely hands off? Are there team meetings, or are you working virtually with 3 managers that are constantly traveling? How many people are you reporting to? Remember, this interview can be a great opportunity for you to scope out the environment you’ll be working in. And if you’ve never set foot inside before — no internships, shadowing or anything — it’s the closest you’ll get to an inside view to judge against whatever other companies you’re interviewing with.
Purpose: Gather insight
4) What is your direct manager or company looking for most in a new employee? This is similar to the question, “Why was my resume attractive?” But it focuses less on you — and more on the ideal candidate. Why is it important? This is where you find out what qualities they’re looking for that you may not have or that they may be expecting you to acquire.
Pairing those two questions together lets your recruiter or interviewer know that you’re genuinely trying to find out what strengths you have that they want on their team. If you’ve got good credentials and a strong resume most recruiters and interviewers know that you’re interviewing them as much as they are you — so throwing out this question is a great way to express that you’re looking for a company that values you for your strengths, and that you’re also capable of and willing to grow. You’re not looking to work just anywhere doing just anything. You’re looking to bring your greatest strengths to a company that will use them and to grow into your position if needed.
Purpose: Exhibit control
5) What is the turnover rate for your position or within the company? Where do people in your position normally move in the company? I doubt most companies will blurt out that they have a high turnover rate — but for me, that is always a red flag. Try and dig a bit deeper into the way their internal structure works. Perhaps it’s a good thing, and they’re constantly moving entry-level workers into positions that better satisfy them. But there’s always a chance that internal structures haven’t been nailed down and solidified. Lack of stability in first and second jobs can do great harm to an entry-level employee’s ability to build his or her own initial expertise. Look out for that.
Purpose: Exhibit control, Gather insight
6) What type of training or further industry education does the company offer? Again, this is so important and should be crucial to your decision if you’re moving into an industry that is either growing, or constantly changing. Is your company committed to keeping you knowledgeable and up to date in the industry? You want to know. Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll drop a great position if they aren’t actively sending you to the best seminars — but particular should and need to be willing to invest in employee education to keep and cultivate top talent. The investment a company does or doesn’t make in employees can speak volumes about their business values and models, and whether they as a business really deliver.
Show them that you value your industry and career highly enough to want to be an expert in whatever field you’re choosing. Again, this is a great question that exhibits control and real concern in an interview.
Purpose: Exhibit control
7) Anything else you’re really interested in? My favorite question that's very pertinent to my interests is how open they are to sending their employees to work in overseas offices if they have them. What are the highlights and perks in a career or company that you’d like to learn about? This question is by no means a must — but why not create a little excitement for yourself by finding out about other opportunities. Informed eagerness — it’s the way to go.
Purpose: Gather insight
In addition to asking questions about the company — it is of course still helpful to show what you know about the company and turn those points into mini conversations as well. Talk about what you know about the company that interests you, how the company may differ from your last job and why that’s attractive to you.
No interview will be successful without prior knowledge of, or research done on the company. After all, how do you know what you don’t know? Point being: Never take on an interview before researching. If the company finds you — put the initial interview on hold for a day or two before plunging into it.
I drink wine, blog, career hunt and search for my purpose in life relentlessly. There are days where I'm so put together, and others where I'm completely unhinged. I'm into my stories and opinions and share them all over! Follow me @LunchWithLondon to find out where I'm blogging next, and tweet me to chat!