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The Importance of Asking Questions During an Interview

It is important to remember that an interview is meant for both parties to gauge their interest and value in each other. The interviewer is asking questions to learn about you and your areas of expertise. In return, you should prepare questions that help you understand the role, the company and the people you will be working with.

You can do all the preparation in the world, be sure you’ve aced the interview and be soaring with confidence, however if you forget one small but crucial piece, it could all be for naught. Asking questions. This typically comes at the tail end of an interview, when the client will say “Do you have any questions for me/us?”  Do not get stuck with a typical response of “no, I think you’ve answered the questions I had”. This is a sure way to leave a bad taste in the mouth of an interviewer and poor overall impression. It is very often the last impression you make, that will stick with someone. It’s common knowledge that it is crucial that you prepare for an interview by brushing up on related skill sets, studying your resume and even practice responses in a mirror. And this is true. However just as important is researching the company and researching the individuals that will be conducting the interview. With this information, prepare a small handful of well thought out questions that will be sure to leave the impression that you are genuinely interested in that particular position.

Below I will describe a few questions that have been met positively by interviewers and why.

  1. Describe the culture of the company.
    1. Now this is something that a manager really should have covered during the interview as any position is going to be more than just performing the tasks outlined in a job description. However if the environment of the work place was not covered in the interview, be sure to ask them about it. What type of personality would succeed and fit in best with the team? Are you looking for someone that is very self-motivated and needs minimal direction? Or is the culture more collaborative and team focused?
  2. Do your research and see if there are any major acquisitions or current news stories involving the company.
    1. Just use this as a talking point, and maybe not even as a direct question. “I came across an article about how you acquired ‘company A’ in a recent merger. I found that very interesting and am curious how that might affect your growth over the next few years?” This shows that you are an expert in the industry, and keep up to date with major happenings in your field.
  3. What do you enjoy most about working at the company?
    1. This is a great questions to ask, if for no better reason than people really enjoy talking about themselves. To ask this of a hiring manager shows that you are genuinely interested in the company and that you want an insider’s perspective. He / She will be pleased that you care about their opinion.
  4. What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
    1. This is another one that will likely be addressed during an interview, since it is hopefully the reason they are meeting with you. To help solve a problem they are facing. However if not, it is a great chance to try and sell yourself further by offering some quick ideas on how you may be able to address their needs.
  5. Do you have any concerns/hesitations about my skills and how they match-up to this role?
    1. This is a bold question to ask, as it is hard to understand why you would want to point out any potential weaknesses you may have. However if you get the feeling that they just aren’t grasping your full potential, or maybe missed an important skill set that you know you have, try and steer the conversation into addressing that issue. But be careful, as you don’t want them bring up short comings you don’t have an answer to.
  6. What are the next steps in the interview process?
    1. This is pretty standard, however if you just need one more question to ask, this is a good one. It shows that you are anxious to keep the ball rolling, and that you are looking forward to the next conversation. It is also important for you to know if a decision will be coming or if there will be more rounds of interviews.

Whatever questions you choose to ask, the important thing is that you prepare and ask something. Do your homework, ask insightful questions and leave a positive lasting impression. It is crucial that a potential employer feels that you are genuine in your interest and candid about your skills and experience. The more interest and knowledge you show in a company, the better impression you will leave. However as great as questions are, remember that a hiring manager has a schedule and other obligations outside of interviewing you. Ask three or four questions, but don’t go overboard to the point that you begin to take time out of their day.