Ok, you landed an interview at one of your top companies to work for! Great job. Now, I’d like to share one of my tried and true interview tips before you get to the meeting —ask strong questions in the interview. Believe it or not, the questions you ask in an interview can help you OR knock you out of the running for the job.
Before he became my client, Joseph had an interview with the hiring manager for a position he really wanted. He researched the company, re-read the job description, and brushed up on his top strengths and weaknesses. He was on time and did well during the interview …until the last 15 minutes. When the manager asked, “Joseph, what questions do you have for me?” he wasn’t prepared to answer this question and he sabotaged his odds of winning this job.
When I started working with Joseph, I developed scenarios to get him thinking differently. These apply to anyone headed into a job interview.
- Scenario #1: Joseph didn’t have any questions prepared. Mistake! Solution #1: Prepare your questions, write them down, and bring them with you to the interview. As a matter of fact, show your interviewer that you have them written down and they will be impressed with your preparation
- Scenario #2:Joseph asked, “What is the starting salary?” Mistake! Solution #2:Never talk salary, even in ranges. As a matter of fact, don’t ask anything financial in nature, such as benefits. Your mission is to get an offer in hand. Once you do, you can ask questions and possibly negotiate, but not before.
- Scenario #3: Joseph asked, “Is there a training program or structured on-boarding process?” Mistake! Solution #3: Think about the perception you are creating with your questions. In this case, the interviewer may think:“He needs hand-holding and may be too high maintenance for me. I need someone who knows how to do this.” If a training program is mentioned in the job description or on the company website, then it is appropriate to ask for more insights about the structure, length, etc.
- Scenario #4:Joseph asked, “What does your division or company do?” Really big mistake! Solution #4: It is still shocking how many job seekers ask this question. With the web, calling people you know, social media, and many other resources, there is no excuse for not knowing what a company does. Research what their department or division does, as well. Tip: One of my favorite resources is your local city’s Business Journal, both their online resources and the printed publication. Find your city’s resources here.
Ok, so what are good questions to ask in an interview? Below are my top 7 questions for you to ask in your next interview. You won’t get to all seven, and you need to pick the right questions for the right audience, so read carefully and choose the ones that are right for you.
- I’m very self-motivated. How will you measure my success in this position after one full year?
- The first 30 days are very important for me to meet as many team members as possible. How will you recommend I do that?
- What are the top threeskills or experiences you are looking for that may not be mentioned in the job description?
- Of all the people who have worked for you, what are the characteristics of those who have stood out as great performers?
- I have to admit I’m a perfectionist in some areas. What are the aspects of this position that absolutely require precision and attention to detail?
- Of all the criteria you have outlined for this position, what are the top three in stack rank order?
- The position we are discussing is something I am very excited about.Do I have your support to proceed to the next level of the hiring process? (This is called “going for the close” or “asking for the order” in sales.)
As an experienced hiring manager and interviewer, I am impressed when a candidate brings out a piece of paper with their questions written out. It means they are prepared, thoughtful and thorough. It’s even better when they write down the answers I gave under each question! I know that’s the type of employee I want on my team and most hiring managers would feel the same.