Years ago, almost right out of school, I applied to a job for which I was obviously under qualified. I was armed with two things:
- A horribly written resume – Having very little experience in the job market and absolutely no idea how to write a decent resume, I did something I warn everyone against today: I used a template.
- The hiring manager thankfully got past my disastrous resume. Once I got an interview, I prepared. I anticipated interview questions and knew exactly how to answer them. Most of all I knew what questions I wanted to ask.
A few hours after my interview, I was offered the job. Months later, I asked my boss what made him hire me. He replied with, “It certainly wasn’t your experience. You asked excellent questions that made me understand how interested you were in the job and I saw your potential ”.
Today I tell all my career counseling clients to be prepared with customized questions to ask the interviewer. Take the time to write them out. Before going into any interview, you should research the company as well as the interviewer if possible. This gives you a chance to gear your questions specifically to that job.
Here are a few good questions to ask
1) Ask questions specific to the job itself. These could be technical questions
This not only shows interest but further shows your suitability for the job. This is your chance to take advantage of the opportunity to ask focused job interview questions. Show that you are better prepared than the other candidates; use your questions to highlight your suitability for the job. In doing so, you take control by asking the job interview question that you have researched and prepared.
2) What are some of the immediate needs of this department?
This not only gives you the chance to understand what challenges the department faces, but it allows you to further gear your skills to help overcome those challenges. If for example, the interviewer answers with something related to cashflow projections or budgets, you can then mention our experience with this later in your interview.
3) What are a few of the most important qualities you look for in the candidate who will fill this position?
Again, this not only tell you what the interviewer is looking for, but which of your skills you need to highlight to convince him/her that you are the right candidate for the job in subsequent conversations.
4) What would a typical day be for someone in this position?
This question is more for your understanding of the role and the way the department functions as a whole.
5) Why is this position available?
The answer to this question will give you vast insight expectations from someone in this position. If the position is brand new, the company is likely to be growing and there is considerable potential advancement. If the position is available to replace someone, you will gain from understanding why this position is now vacant.
6) Can you tell me a little about your background and how you came to join this company?
Many shy away from asking this question, but I think it’s essential for many reasons. First of all, you create a rapport with the interviewer because you’re showing interest in this person as your future boss. It also gives the impression that you can learn from them. Of course, this question has to be asked with the tone of genuine interest and not one where you’re testing the interviewer.
7) What is the next step in this process?
The answer to this question will allow you to understand if there will be more interviewers with other members of the company as well as how soon they would like to make a decision. You will be able to tailor your follow up according to this answer.