A key recommendation I always make when preparing people for upcoming job interviews centers on asking some questions of your own. Whether you are extroverted and confident or naturally shy and reserved, you would be well-advised to pose some questions during the process.
In our economic times, out of necessity there are a growing number of people who unfortunately find themselves in the position of applying for work they aren’t entirely or, let’s be honest, even moderately passionate about. For example, the well-educated Physician who finds credentials obtained internationally aren’t recognized in the country they now reside in so they look for a job to pay their bills outside of Healthcare. At the other end, a General Labourer who has never felt true passion for any job they’ve ever had period, who’s once again testing the job market looking for a job.
Then too there are the folks who are extremely excited about upcoming interviews and the opportunities they represent; a chance to do something and make a real difference in the world they know. For example the recent graduate who is excited at the prospect of putting their Business Administration Degree to use looking at an upcoming interview with what they see as their dream employer.
In either of the two situations above – and any other scenario – as I say, I believe asking questions yourself at an interview is not just a good idea but absolutely imperative should you wish to positively influence those interviewing you and increase the odds of receiving a job offer. Of course the opposite is just as true; ask no questions at all and you leave a poor impression and significantly reduce the odds you’ll land the job.
I’ve said many times before that I stress framing the job interview as a conversation where both parties involved agree the topic of conversation is an opportunity; a job for you and a potential new co-worker for them. So imagine a conversation where you asked questions of the other person in an effort to get to know them better and they in return asked none of you. You’d be left with the strong impression that they aren’t interested in you or even getting to know you. The same is true in a job interview scenario; ask no questions and you’re really saying, “I’m not all that interested in learning anything you could tell me.” So why then would an employer hire someone who has no interest in either them or learning more insights into what the job entails, the atmosphere you’d be working in etc.?
For starters, prepare a few questions ahead of time. Before you stress about how you’ll come across or how to exactly phrase the question itself, just identify what you’d most like to know that you haven’t been able to determine through some research. Are you most interested in knowing the hours of work, any overtime requirements, the percentage of time you’d be expected to be on the road vs. in the office, whether or not the organization promotes from within or the style of the person you’d report to? Jot these things down first; don’t worry how to ask, just write down all the things you’d really like to know that might influence your decision to accept the job or not.
Okay so you’ve got a few or a good number of things you could turn into questions. Take each thing you want to know and write it down as a question. Are some of these things you’ve put down more important to you than others? If so, put them in the order which for you personally goes from the most important to the least; the things that would be nice to know yes but aren’t critical to accepting or declining the job if it was offered to you.
If you took these questions to the interview, be listening attentively so you avoid asking one of these which they’ve previously answered. When you listen closely to the interviewer and keep your eyes open to your surroundings, you may discover during the interview itself that your interest is piqued about something you see or hear and this could also form the basis of a question you didn’t think of previously.
Here’s another thing that can be helpful. Once you’ve asked a question and the interview is answering it, focus on them and listen. After they’ve answered, think about making a comment building on their answer. “I like that; I agree that promoting people from within the company gives everyone the opportunity to advance with a sound understanding of the company from the ground up. My second question is…”
Questions to avoid tend to be those that reveal or suggest problems. If you only ask about health benefits and sick leave, it strongly suggests you may have an undisclosed health issue or your own. If you only ask about money and advancement, you appear to be only self-invested and looking beyond the job you are actually applying for right now. Make sure you emphasize that this is the job you are motivated to achieve and dedicate your energy to in the here and now and that you’d like to believe at some point in the future you’d be in a position to take advantage of other opportunities as they arise.
So here’s a question (ironically); what do really want to know?