Although every interview is a little different, you can just about be guaranteed that they’ll all end on a similar note. “Do you have any questions?” will sound familiar to just about anybody who has set foot in an interview room before. Often, this question is met with a short and simple “no,” and both parties continue on their way. However, turning down this invitation to increase your appeal can be a big mistake, as it gives you an opportunity to learn more about the interviewer, the company, and how you might fit in. More than that, it may well cost you the job. If you don’t ask any questions, you could come across as uninterested and leave a bad impression on the interviewer.
With that in mind, what do you say when invited to ask a question? Although you essentially have the ‘floor’, it opens up the risk for you to say something that may endanger your prospects, which could even happen without you knowing. To make sure you’re giving the right impression, read on for our two top questions to ask employers to increase your chances of a successful interview.
Though it might not be the first question that comes to mind, asking this question can have a number of unique benefits. Firstly, it will give you an insight into what the person interviewing you values. Their answer will help you learn a lot about the people you’ll be working with and what they’re driven by, which in turn can help you get a deeper insight into the company, its values and what they deem as positive outcomes or behaviours.
For example, if their answer focuses on company social events or the achievements of others in the workplace, you can assume that a strong culture within the team is a high priority in the company. On the other hand, if they focus mostly on individual achievements or certain business outcomes, that might tell you about the motivations and personality of the interviewer – which might lend itself towards a more results-driven, outcome-focused environment. However, what they don’t say when answering this question can be just as valuable. If they don’t have an answer, or they struggle to come up with one, this could be a significant red flag that indicates the employer’s environment might not be overly appealing.
Additionally, by asking this question, you’ll also build your relationship with the interviewer and help yourself to further stand out. Although you may already be a front-runner for the position, this specific question has a unique upside. By asking them to recall their favourite moment, they’ll subconsciously pair that memory with your question, creating a bond that will make you memorable to them. This presents you with a significant advantage over others when they’re going over interview notes, and selecting a candidate for the role.
A lot of the time, to find the best kind of question to ask, the key thing to do is to pay attention throughout the interview and pick up on any hints that the interviewer might drop. By adding this new information to the research you’ve done on the company beforehand coupled with what you already know about the role and responsibilities – you can start to formulate questions that will give you an extra advantage over other applicants.
By combining all the information you’ve gathered both before and during the interview, you’ll be able to connect the dots and link your strengths to the skills and capabilities needed to reinforce how you could potentially be the answer to their needs. For example, you could ask “From the questions you’ve asked me today, it seems like I could add some real value to your reporting function. Would you be able to tell me about what the current situation is, and what challenges I’d face if I were to step into this role?”
This gives you a chance to touch on the skills you have to solve their problem and reiterate why you’re the person they’re looking for. If you get the role (which you certainly have a better chance of by showing this kind of initiative in your questions), you’ll gain a deeper insight into the issues that you’ll be facing in the role, which will allow you to be better prepared on your first day. It’ll also help to clarify exactly what your new employer will be looking for from you, which in turn gives you clear expectations to work towards achieving.
All too many people are silent when asked if they have any questions in an interview. This approach doesn’t help your odds, and turning down the chance to ask questions can be a serious, missed opportunity. By asking the right questions, you can find out more about the company, present your skills, and help yourself stand out in a crowd of job applicants.
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For specific tips on the question of strengths and weaknesses, please have a look at Overcoming Questions on Strengths and Weaknesses.