When you’re looking for a great job you can focus so hard on answering interview questions well that you forget the conversation goes both ways. Asking the right questions can make or break a job interview.
The process of asking questions completely changes the dynamic of the interview. This is your chance to enhance the interviewer’s perception of you, and give them something to remember you by.
Answering the unspoken questions
Whether you’re going for a senior management role or a graduate position, the same concerns are running through the hiring manager’s mind:
Does this person really want the job? Will they be a good fit for this organisation? Can they fulfil the requirements of the role?
To assure your future employer of all of the above, you can ask questions that will confirm your suitability and help you to show you’re the best fit.
Here are four questions that will help you land that job:
1. Based on what you’ve heard so far, do you have any reservations about putting me forward for this position? Can I clarify anything for you?
This is your chance to proactively address any concerns that your future employer may harbour. It also opens honest communications with the interviewer. By asking them to take stock of who you are and how well you’ve answered their questions, it helps them to zero in on the highlights (and the lowlights) of the interview and commit your responses to memory. It also demonstrates confidence and self-awareness on your part.
How well you then respond to their follow-up statement at this point, is mission critical.
If you’ve done your prep and you’re aware of your weaknesses, you should be ready with a response that puts a positive spin on any potential obstacles. For example, you may want to focus on the ways you are actively trying to resolve any gaps in your skill set.
2. If you were to place me in this role, what would a successful first few months look like?
This question frames the conversation so that you are front and centre in the eye of the employer. Asking the interviewer to picture you being effective in the position will create a powerful association between you, the job and your future achievements.
How the hiring manager defines and measures success will also offer you an insight into their expectations and whether or not you could work well together.
Cultural fit is important; knowing you can communicate with your boss and work happily alongside your team-mates is arguably just as important as knowing you can do the job well.
3. We’ve talked about the core skills that are essential for this role, what are some soft skills that will be important in this position?
Soft-skills draw on your emotional resources and life experience. They speak to how well you handle stress, manage personalities and navigate personal challenges within a work environment.
If the role requires you to lead a team or negotiate with multiple business divisions for instance, asking this question may help you discover who the key stakeholders are, identify tricky personalities or challenging projects.
It will also allow you to share some examples of your own diverse soft-skills – the best thing about this is that these examples don’t have to be lifted from past job experience. If you’re just starting out in your career this question will let you shine bright no matter your level of on-the- job experience.
4. What would you say was the best moment you’ve had while working here?
The answer to this question will let you know what your future co-workers value, and the kind of culture the organisation cultivates. If your interviewer struggles to come up with a meaningful memory you’ll soon discover how well your interests actually line up with the organisation’s own values.
This is a great one to end an interview on because it concludes the discussion on a positive note.
Aside from being an emotional plus for both parties, it has the potential to start a slightly unconventional, friendly and informal chat where you can highlight your passions and enthusiasm for working with the panel.
Seal the deal
Asking the right questions in a proactive manner is an excellent way to demonstrate your capacity to meet organisational challenges and uncover useful insights about your future employer. Courageous questions demand thoughtful responses, and they will help you get into the career you want.