It should go without saying that preparing questions to ask is an essential part of your interview process (you are making questions ahead of time, right?). Having thoughtful questions ready shows you are engaged, interested in the company, and that you’ve done your homework. A good line of questions will include everything from the details of the role to the competitive advantages of the company and how they fit in their industry. People often simply go through the motions with their questions, making this a key part of the interview for you to gain an edge. Two-part interview questions are just the way to do that.
Consider the following:
What qualities do you look for in a sales representative for your team?
In my last role I was successful in large part because of my attention to detail and strong pipeline management; what qualities do you typically see in the top representatives on your team?
Which of those sounded better? The two part question gives you the ability to do several things: it allows you to talk about past achievements; complement previous employers; and provide context to your question.
The context part can be especially useful when you want more info on the company, but also want to show you’ve done your research. Let’s look at another example.
What would you consider to be your company’s competitive advantages?
I see that you’ve been number one in your industry over the last 5 years, that’s amazing; what are the competitive advantages responsible for that success?
You can quickly see that there are many different ways you can structure these questions. Want more information about a subject, but don’t want to give the impression you just skimmed over the job description? Try this:
I love that you have a structured two week training program, but I was hoping to learn a little more about it. Is the training just in office, or is there also field training?
Sounds much better than simply asking what their training looks like.
Best of all, these questions are typically asked toward the end of the interview. This leaves the impression of you being a dynamic, thoughtful, well-researched candidate for the position.
In this competitive job market you want to take every opportunity you can to gain an edge. Two-part interview questions can truly differentiate you in a part of the interview that is often taken for granted.