Asking questions is not just for the interviewers. A savvy job candidate will ask questions as well. Often the questions you ask can have a significant impact on the outcome.
Questions During the Interview
For a truly successful interview, you should be asking questions throughout the interview. This is an opportunity to demonstrate both your level of preparation and your interest in the opportunity. Prior to the interview, research the company’s website and review the company on business sites such as Hoovers. Have insightful questions prepared in advance. You may want to ask how a recent acquisition or new product impacts work in this specific department. You may ask a question about a recent press release. Think about how what you have learned would impact the job you are interviewing for.
Questions at the End of Your Interview
As the interview is clearly wrapping up, it is very important to ask a couple critical questions:
- What are the next steps? Get a sense of whether there will be another round of interviews or if they will be making a decision. Ask for a sense of timing. You need to know in case you are expecting other offers. Also this information helps you gauge how quickly you need to follow up.
- Do you have any issues or concerns about my qualifications for this position? Don’t worry about it, ask. If they have any concerns, this gives you an opportunity to address the issue directly.
- How do you define success in this role after the first six months? After the first year? Let them know you want to be successful in the role. If the interviewers don’t know the answer or can’t agree on the answer, that could be red flag. Be sure to ask follow-up questions to seek further clarification.
End with a Strong Summary
Don’t let the interview end with pleasantries as you wrap up. Be sure you seize the opportunity to offer a strong closing summary. Thank the interviewer for their time and the insights they shared. Let them know you are very interested in the position and the company and cite a couple key reasons for your interest. Offer a quick summary of the strengths you would bring to this position. Leave them confident that you could do this job and that you want to do it.
A handwritten thank you note to each interviewer is remembered and can make a difference in the final decision. Personalize each note and again state your interest and your strong qualifications while referencing something you discussed. Get the note in the mail within 24 hours of your interview. If they are making a decision quickly, still get the note in the mail but send a thank you email as well.
Questions Never to Ask on an Interview
Be sure to avoid the interview questions that will drive you interviewers crazy:
- How much is the salary?
- How much vacation time will I get?
- Can I take two weeks’ vacation next month?
Wait until they show they want you for the job before you worry about what you will gain in salary and benefits. Don’t put the cart in front of the horse. It implies that you are really not focused on the opportunity and gives the impression that taking time off is more important than delivering results. Sell yourself first. They will give you the additional information when you need it.