Asking the right questions in a job interview

asking the right interview questions, two part interview questionsYou researched the role. You researched the company. You arrived 10 minute early, dressed to the nines. You nailed the answer to every question they threw your way. At the end of the interview you are asked if you have any questions. “No, I think you answered all the questions I had.”

And that is why you never got a call for a second interview.

If you don’t have questions for the interviewer they are going to conclude that you either a) didn’t take the time to prepare, or b) aren’t that interested in the position. Either one is often a deal breaker.

Preparing questions is not only a chance to gain a greater perspective on the role, company and leader, it’s a chance to set yourself apart from other candidates. You can do this by having unique, thoughtful questions to ask. They don’t all have to be about the position either; asking questions about the company and industry make great subjects as well.

First things first; how many questions should you prepare? A good rule of thumb should be 8-10 questions ready to ask. If that seems like a lot, it is. You aren’t going to ask all 10 questions though. You are preparing additional questions since many will get answered throughout the dialogue. You want to ask about the details of the job, how it fits into the organization, and what the goals and expectations are. Beyond this, you can ask about the company, their strengths in the marketplace, even the hiring manager’s experience at the company. Finally, include a couple questions about the industry as a whole. Focusing on the job, company, and industry will give you a well-rounded view of the role and keep the interviewer engaged with a solid range of topics.

The best questions will be open-ended, allowing the interviewer to talk freely about the company, the role, or even their own experiences. You also need to make sure you aren’t asking a question that you can find the answer to on their website.

It is important to be tactful with your questions as well. Asking “what’s your turnover like?” can put an interviewer on the defensive. Like it or not, if the interviewer feels like they are defending the company the whole time, they aren’t going to have a great impression about how the interview went. A much better question would be “I am interested in a long-term fit here. What do you do to retain your employees and help them grow within the organization?” This question is more positive and provides you with a more vivid picture of the role to help you make your decision.

My final piece of advice: frame your questions around how you can contribute to the company’s success, not what they can offer to you. Don’t ask about compensation, vacation time, etc. Ask about what you can do to ramp up quickly and how you can help the hiring manager hit his goals. This results-oriented approach will make you come across as a candidate that is focused on not only landing the job, but in being a successful contributor to the company.

Asking questions is an integral part of a job interview. Preparing the right questions can get you the info you need to assess the role while also making you look like an A-list candidate in the process.