Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

At the end of a typical interview, the candidate will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer. As a job seeker, this part of the interview is yet another opportunity to show potential employers how you stand apart from the rest of the pack of candidates. Don’t waste this opportunity. Have good questions ready.

Do Not use this time to ask more information about the company - If you have done your homework properly, you should already know the answers

Do use this question period to find out how you can help the employers solve problems - The best questions to ask are the ones that you, as the candidate, already know part of the answer and already know how to contribute to the solution. This strategy for asking insightful questions will give the interviewer the opportunity to see the degree of research you done on the company as well as show that you are capable of a higher level of thinking. The best questions to ask are those that are open ended i.e. those that require an explanation. (Close ended questions require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and that stifle rather than enrich the conversation.) These types of questions will help you to uncover specific issues and leave the interviewer with the increased perception that you understand the problem both on a micro and macro level. Questions that begin with the words, ‘How...’, ‘Why...’, 'What impact...’, 'What are the implications of...’, are far more effective than questions that begin with the words ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where, or ‘When’.

Do Not use this time to ask questions about career advancement, salary, company benefits and the like.

Do ask questions about company strategy, corporate goals, business growth opportunities, issues that have an effect on the industry, etc. If you want to know where you can find the information you are looking for, I would suggest that you start with Google, Yahoo, or any other search engine, look at company press releases, the comment section of the annual report of public companies, and read all of Blogs you can find about the company. This type of research will then allow you to ask questions such as, “My research indicates that (blank) in your industry is projected to increase by 15% in the next 3 years. How is (insert the company name) preparing to capitalize on that opportunity?

Know that the questions you ask are not as important as the answers you receive. The point of this exercise is that you are asking tough questions and attempting to discern if you are getting truthful answers. If you know all or part of the answer to the question before you ask the question, you will know whether you are getting truthful answers. If you are not being told the truth during the interview, that speaks VOLUMES about the company culture and work environment and it’s time to ask yourself if you really want to work there.

If you take the time to come up with at least a half a dozen insightful questions, you will find the interview process far more productive and become far more successful in all of your future career endeavours.