If you want to propel into the upper echelons of your desired industry, you’re likely to have to attend numerous interviews. Across from the panel, you’ll be put through your paces with question after question; be they potential scenarios, tests of your knowledge of the company and possibly the unexpected bizarre questions. But then, there comes a point where it’s your turn. You get to ask questions!… Just what do you ask?
The fundamental thing to be aware of is that interviewers want their candidates to ask questions. First and foremost, they want to know that you have a real interest in the company you’re looking to join. So you may want to ask things such as ‘What are the company’s/department’s current three most important goals?’ Here, you’re showing a keen interest in the targets that you will hopefully assist to work towards. Depending on their answer, you may then be able to express your specific interest or indeed experience on the goal/s they’ve mentioned. Similarly, you could ask ‘What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to its closest competitors?’ It’s showing a wider passion for knowledge of not just your role, but the targets which you all contribute towards.
You may also want to ask more about your specific role i.e. details of your day to day responsibilities and the demands of the job. ‘What challenges might I encounter in this position’ is an example of the type of query you may want to put forward. Questions like this show that you’re already thinking of the difficulties involved and possible solutions for when they do. One factor you may want to query (carefully) is the potential career progression in this role. ‘Is there a structured career path for this role?’ simultaneously displays a desire to excel and a commitment to being an employee at the company long term. You may even want to challenge their expectancies they have of the individual who takes on this role with ‘What would be positively surprising that a new employee in this role could achieve in the first three months?’ This hints that you’re looking to surpass expectations and targets that have been achieved before.
Showing keen interest into the role, the department, the work culture/ethos and company/institution as a whole shows enthusiasm and no matter how qualified a candidate may be for a position, enthusiasm for job is just as important. Furthermore, displaying interest and insight into the wider industry shows an elevated level of commercial awareness.
As keen as you may be to go to that festival, you must not ask about holidays during an interview. This is even more the case with regards to pay. You do not want to give off the impression that you are more interested in what the organisation can do for you but rather, what you can do for the organisation. If you get the job and prove this, you should be rewarded with the pay and benefits you desire and deserve anyway. Whilst we are acknowledging the don’ts, try to ensure you ask opened ended questions, rather than questions which just have a yes/no answer or ‘why’ questions as if you’re questioning the way the organisation is run and set up. Don’t interrupt the interviewer at any point – seems obvious but you’d be surprised. Make sure you keep your questions concise and not convoluted. And finally, don’t say ‘you’ve answered all of my questions’; this is just not good enough!
Asking questions at the end of an interview can be a tricky affair. However, it is a necessary moment for you to leave a lasting impression on your interviewers, as these are the last words you’ll exchange with them before they make their decision to potentially employ you (or put you through to the next interview stage!). Importantly for you, it allows you to assess how you will fit into the organisation too!