The Questions YOU Ask in an Interview can Knock You Out of the Running

The Questions YOU Ask in an Interview can Knock You Out of the Running
The Questions YOU Ask in an Interview can Knock You Out of the Running

The Questions YOU Ask in an Interview can Knock You Out of the Running

Susan had an hour long interview at 8am with the hiring manager, Joseph, for a position he really wanted. She did some research on the company, re-read the job description and brushed up on her top strengths and weaknesses. She was on time and did well during the interview. Until the last 15 minutes. Joseph asked “Well, Susan, what questions do you have for me?”

Susan displayed “crap” in the form of mistakes that sabotaged her odds of winning this job.

Mistake #1: She didn’t have any questions prepared.

Solution #1: Prepare your questions, write them down, and bring the piece of paper in with you to the interview.

Mistake #2: Susan asked “What is the starting salary?”

Solution #2: Never ever, ever, ever talk salary, even in ranges. Your mission is to get an offer in hand. Once you do, you can ask questions and possibly negotiate. Not before. Not to the Human Resources (HR) person, a recruiter, or to any interviewer.

Mistake #3: Susan asked “Is there a training program or structured on-boarding process?”

Solution #3: Think about the story or perception the interviewer is creating with your questions. Put yourself in their shoes. In this case, they may be thinking “wow, she needs hand-holding, and may be too high-maintenance for me. I need someone who knows how to do this.”

Mistake #4: “What does your division or company do?”

Solution #4: It is still shocking how many job-seekers don’t do their research. With the web, calling people you know, and many other resources, there is no excuse like “I didn’t have time”. By the way, in the U.S., one of my favorite resources that I have referred thousands of job seekers to is your local city’s Business Journal, both their online resources and receiving their publication. Look up American City Business Journals online.

The keys to great questions are the following:

  1. How can I show a strength through the question?
  2. How can I convey something to the interviewer that we haven’t already covered but it’s important for him/her to know about me?
  3. How can I avoid inadvertently showing a softness in a skill they are looking for?
  4. Is the question relevant to the interview? You are there for a purpose. Your questions should focus on helping you understand the job or the team you will be joining. Examples: Don’t ask “what are Boeing’s top challenges as a company?” when you are interviewing for a job in a certain department under a hiring manager who is looking for a very specific set of skills. First, you’re burning up valuable time, you can read those online or in the papers, and it’s not relevant to the job unless you are interviewing for their CEO or CFO position.

What are the best questions to ask in an interview? There are many, but I’ll share my four favorites.

  • I’m very self-motivated. How will you measure the success of the person in this position after one full year?
  • The first 30 days is very important for me to meet as many team members as possible. How will you recommend I do that?
  • What are the top 3 skills or experience you are looking for that may not be mentioned in the job description?
  • The position we are discussing is something I am very excited about. Can you give me feedback on how I am meeting your qualifications and if I will proceed to the next level of the hiring process? (This is called “going for the close” or “asking for the order” in sales).

Congratulations that you got an interview! Now, you are on stage from the minute you step into the door through the minute you depart. Everything you say and do can be in your favor. Or not. The more you prepare, the better you will do. So, “Cut the Crap, Get a Job”. See more help at or


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