What to Ask an Interviewer

We are immensely concerned and focused on the questions that we expect to be asked by interviewers. We’re terrified that we might not have an answer, so we practice, rehearse, and review every aspect of our careers to date.

We learn it backwards, forwards, and upside down until even the idea of referring to our own résumé is ridiculous; we are ready for anything. Our “greatest success” anecdote is primed and ready. We have our “example of Failure, with the Lesson Learned” story all set to go.

We have the facts and figures about how we turned an organization, that it was about as effective as someone trying to herd cats into the streamlined powerhouse of business that just made its first billion last year. How could we possibly go wrong?

Ask the Right Questions

SC&C questions to ask during an interviewYou may be the best thing to ever come down the turnpike, but they’re interviewing people with skill sets very similar to yours, because those are the skills required for this job. Despite how incredible you feel you actually are, you still need to differentiate yourself. And it’s not their questions that are going to make a difference.

Whose questions will make a difference? Yours!

It’s no longer enough to be qualified. If you want a job in today’s business environment, you have to shine, and there’s no better way to show your excellence than by asking excellent questions–John Kador, Monster Contributing Writer

The most important question they will ask is the one that most people don’t prepare for at all. It’s that time near the end of the interview when they finally hand you the stage so that you can say anything you want, when they ask: “Do you have any questions for me?”

What is the most common answer to that question? “No, I think I’m good. Thanks for your time. Goodbye.”

People like that are enough to make me want to pull my hair out, then grab them by the lapels, give them a good shake, and say, “Are you really just here to waste my time?”

Interviewer Is a Great Source

SC&C interviewer is a great sourceIf you are such a hot commodity, how is it that you fail to recognize an opportunity to talk directly to an insider—to garner insight that could change your entire picture about this organization? This person knows things you couldn’t possibly know—and they are sitting right in front of you, ready to share!

To not take advantage of this person’s willingness to apprise you of some inside secrets is like saying to them, “You’re not important or wise enough to give me useful information.” Or, “You’re just a steppingstone to someone more important in my next interview”.

Of course that is not what you intended, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s outrageous. So you’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen! You’re going to prepare some questions for them that show that you’re insightful, and clever too.

What You Should Ask

  • “You know what? I’d love to get your insights about ABC Inc. Tell me, why did you choose to work here? What attracted you to this company?”
  • “You have a good grasp about the intricacies around here. What do you see as the future of this company? Where do you think it will be in the next five or ten years?”
  • If they are likely to be your direct boss, ask them about their leadership style. Are they into daily confabs, weekly roundups, or are they memo machines? How easy is it to consult with them when the need arises?
  • And whether they’re going to be your direct boss or a working associate you can’t go wrong with asking them to tell you what they believe are the keys to success for the position that you’re applying for. What’s the best way to be effective? What techniques or styles are good for directing or guiding the rest of the crew to accomplish goals?
  • “What targets or markers will define my success? What should I be aiming for three, six, or nine months down the road?

Look how you’ve changed the dynamic. What different thing is going through the interviewer’s mind now?

“Hmm. I like this person. They have good interpersonal skills and will integrate nicely. They’re interested in how to succeed. They don’t look like some itinerant that’s going to disappear in 6 to 12 months. Yes, they look like they’ll be a good fit.”

That’s right! You’ve demonstrated your people skills; you’ve made them feel important. They now understand that their opinion is valued, but more importantly, that you’re clever enough to recognize that.

So this is your new task. You’re already an expert in answering their expected questions. Now craft some perfect questions to the one that most often goes unanswered—Do you have any questions for me? Get this handled—it’s important.

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