Do you freeze up when an employer asks — ‘do you have any questions for us’? It’s time to fix that. Asking the right questions at an interview can influence your chances of landing that job.
Most candidates focus so hard on answering the hiring manager’s questions that they forget the conversation goes both ways. Interviews are actually a great way for you to get to know your future employer. And it’s an opportunity to make yourself memorable — seize this chance to positively influence the interviewer’s perception of you and counter any concerns.
Answering the unspoken questions
Whether you’re going for a senior management role or a graduate position, the same concerns are running through the hiring manager’s mind:
- Does this person really want the job?
- Will they be a good fit for the organisation?
- Can they fulfill the requirements of the role?
To assure your future employer of all of the above, you can ask questions that will confirm your suitability and demonstrate you’re the best fit.
Four questions that will help you land the job
1. Based on what you’ve heard so far, do you have any reservations about putting me forward for this role?
Asking this question takes courage — but it’s your best chance to proactively address any concerns your interviewers may harbour. You’re asking the interviewer to take stock of who you are and how well you’ve answered their questions. This helps them to zero in on the highlights (and the lowlights) of the interview but it also allows you to demonstrate confidence and self-awareness.
If you’ve done your prep, you should be ready with responses that will put a positive spin on any perceived weaknesses. Your answers can also provide greater clarity to questions you may have fudged along the way. For example, are there any gaps in your skill-set that a hiring manager may bring up?
2. If you were to place me in this role, what would a successful first few months look like?
By asking the interviewer to picture you being effective in this position, it can create a powerful association between you, the job and your future achievements.
Be sure to actively listen to their answer, however. Learning how the employer defines and measures success will offer you some insight into their expectations and whether or not you will work well together. Cultural fit is important: knowing you can communicate well with your future boss and work happily alongside the team is arguably just as important as knowing you can do the job well.
3. Can you identify some key attributes or qualities you think are critical to performing well in this role?
This question focuses on soft-skills; those that draw on emotional maturity and life experience. They speak to how well you handle stress, manage different personalities and navigate personal challenges within a work environment.
Should the role require you to lead a team or negotiate with multiple stakeholders for instance, this question can help you uncover who key influencers are, identify tricky personalities or challenging projects. It will also allow you to share examples where you’ve drawn upon your own emotional intelligence to solve a problem.
If you’re just starting out in your career, try to shine a light on the best qualities you’ve developed outside of work. Perhaps you’ve demonstrated some of these desired qualities through extra-curricular activities, like playing sport or volunteering in the community.
4. What can you say is the best moment you’ve had while working here?
The answer to this question will let you know what your future coworkers value, and the kind of culture the organisation cultivates. If the interviewer struggles to come up with a meaningful memory, you’ll soon discover how well your interests actually line up with the organisation’s own values.
Aside from being an emotional plus for both parties, it has the potential to start a slightly unconventional, friendly and informal chat where you can highlight your passions and enthusiasm for working with the panel. It’s a great one to end an interview on because it concludes the discussion on a positive note.
Seal the deal
Asking the right questions in a proactive manner is an excellent way to demonstrate your capacity to meet organisational challenges and uncover useful insights about your future employer. Courageous questions demand thoughtful responses – they will help you get into the career you want.
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