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6 Great Questions to Ask at a Job Interview

July 1, 2010

   If you are going for an interview as a candidate, then you should do some research on the company you’re interviewing with.  Read, and try to really understand the job description, and minimum requirements carefully.  Browse the web site to see how the organization presents itself.  Search for news items, recent press releases, and comments about the company on news sites, and blogs.  [tweetmeme source=”@Aidan_Foley” only_single=false]

For the interview itself, you should dress, and act “to fit in”.  It is important to have some questions prepared, and here are a few that could really help you win over the interviewer:

  1. What exactly would MY daily routine be in order to help YOUR team be successful?  It is essential that you clearly understand your role, and the tasks that you would be expected to undertake.  It is easy to make assumptions, and get the wrong impression of what the work would be so it is vital for both sides that there is clarity in what is expected of you.  If the interviewer cannot give a clear answer then this could be a cause for concern, so politely follow up with more questions.
  2. What is the biggest challenge facing YOUR group right now?  This sort of question takes the interview away from the details of the job, and points it towards strategic issues.  It allows you to discuss the bigger picture.  It proves that you are interested in more than just the 9 to 5 hours of the job.  It can lead to interesting discussions that can show you in a good light – especially if you have done some intelligent preparation.  If appropriate, you can follow up this question with some questions about the objectives of the department.
  3. How long have YOU been here?  After the interviewer has asked a number of questions about you, it can make a good change to ask a question, or two about them.  People often like talking about themselves, and if you can get them talking about their position in the company you may be able to learn some very interesting things.
  4. What are YOU looking for in a successful candidate?  The job advertisement may have listed what was wanted in a candidate, but it is very useful to hear the criteria directly from the source.  The more that you can discover about what they want, and how they will make the decision the better placed you are to influence that decision.
  5. How do YOU feel that I measure up to YOUR requirements for this position?  This follows on naturally from the previous questions.  It may seem a little pushy, but it is a perfectly fair thing to ask.  If they say that you are a good fit, then you can ask whether there is any reason you might not be offered the job.  If they say that you are lacking in some key skill areas, then you can move into problem solving mode, and point out some relevant experience that may help them sway their mind.
  6. Would YOU like to hear what I think WE could do to help YOUR department?  If you want the job then this is a great question to ask at the end of the interview.  Most interviewers will reply with a definite “Yes.”  Drawing on what you have learned in the conversation, you can give a short sales pitch on why you fit the position, and why your strengths will significantly assist the boss to meet their objectives.  Make it short, clear, and concise.  At the end, ask something like, “What do you think?”

Many candidates take the passive role at the interview.  They competently answer the questions that are put to them, but they never take the initiative by engaging the conversation that steers the interview in a helpful direction.  If you are a proactive candidate who asks the sorts of questions given above, then you will be seen as more dynamic than your competition, and you will significantly increase your chances of being offered the job.

What questions do you like to ask at an interview?

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