If you want to impress at your next interview, think carefully about the questions you will put to them. Asking intelligent questions will set you apart as a candidate, and the interviewer’s answers can help you decide whether or not the job is right for you. Here are seven questions you should consider posing and what they reveal about you as a candidate.
1. How would you measure success in the role in 3, 6, and 12 months’ time?
Knowing how success is measured by the company will give you an idea of the employer’s priorities, how you will be expected to progress, and what the role actually involves. For example, if an employer talks about the need to improve inter-department relations before hitting sales targets, you will know what kind of issues you can expect to face. Ask for specifics on what your deliverables will be on a project. Do you feel comfortable with the pace of work and their expectations?
What it shows: You’re results-driven and keen to prove yourself once in the role.
2. What is the biggest challenge facing your team right now?
No job is without challenges or drawbacks. Depending on the frankness of the interviewer, you should get a more realistic picture of what the role will involve. If you ask this question, be sure to follow up with a positive statement. Make sure to demonstrate how your skills and experience can help overcome the challenge and/or how you have successfully dealt with a similar problem in the past.
What it shows: You’re realistic about the role and don’t mind doing the ‘tough’ stuff.
3. Do you offer on-going training in the role?
A well-informed response is a good indicator that the company will invest in your development. If they don’t have a formal training scheme in place, can they give you an example of how they have offered informal training or development to an employee at a similar level? A vague response is a red flag that they are unlikely to invest in your development.
What it shows: You’re committed to expanding your skills and knowledge and add further value to the organisation.
4. Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
Companies don’t just hire people with the right skills and experience for the role, they hire someone who they feel will be a good fit with the current team. Their response may also give you an indication of the type of work culture you can expect.
What it shows: You’re aware of the importance of team dynamics.
5. You have recently won a new client/launched a new project – what direction do you see the company taking in future? Listen carefully to the employer’s response, as it will give you an indication of their priorities. Highlight how your skills and experience fit with their objectives and describe how you would be able to add value to their future plans.
What it shows: Asking informed questions demonstrates that you have done your research and are aware of what’s happening in your industry, as well as this particular organisation. Having an eye on the future suggests you’re committed to staying with the company.
6. Do you have any concerns about my suitability for the role?
It takes a brave person to ask this question and in many ways it can be a risky strategy. If you get to the end of the interview and feel they have decided against you, or you haven’t adequately sold your strengths, this is your last chance to impress. Give the interviewer time to express their concerns and don’t immediately go on the defensive. If they highlight weaknesses, demonstrate how you plan to redress it, for example, by taking a course, work shadowing, or working with a mentor.
What it shows: Candidates who ask this question have confidence in their skills and abilities, as well as good self-awareness of their shortcomings, and willing to do what it takes to get the job.
7. What are the next steps? Is there anything I should do between now and when I start?
The interviewer should give you a clear indication of when you can expect to hear back, and what to prepare for, such as a panel interview or test centre assessment. They may also reveal how many others candidates are currently under consideration.
What it shows: Finding out how you can prepare shows that you are proactive and self-motivated – and importantly, keen to get the job.
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