When our candidates get ready for their job interviews, they tend to focus on preparing their answers to all the questions they are likely to be asked. This is certainly a great approach. However, hiring managers today are just as interested in “good” answers, as they are in “good” questions. Corporate America is changing and companies are no longer looking to fill the seats with hard-working “yes-wo/men”, they want business-minded individuals capable of making a difference. Preparing your questions would set you apart from the “B” players and make you look like a rare gem.
Deciding on what you are going to ask is a lot of work. If you haven’t “googled” the hell out of the company and start asking questions about their plans or vision, it will quickly become apparent that you haven’t done your homework. In this case your questions can harm you instead of helping you. I also would not recommend building all of your questions around employee benefits, perks, work-life balance. Asking too many of those in an interview will make you look like someone with an overactive sense of entitlement. It is best to save these concerns for your final negotiations and if you are being represented by an outside recruiter (lucky you!), just let them fetch this information later. An attractive candidate is a person who wants to understand the role inside and out; someone just as interested in finding a “perfect fit” as the employer. Therefore your questions should be focused on the following:
- The size/scale of the responsibilities of this role.
- The resources potentially available to get the job done.
- How would your success be measured?
- The reporting structure around this role.
- What is the business methodology/culture of the organization?
- The story behind this vacancy. If the predecessor didn’t work out, what might have caused a mismatch? If the predecessor got promoted, what had prevented them from grooming one of their own reports to replace them?
- It is good to get an understanding of their immediate plans for your prospective group, division or even company as a whole.
Asking too many questions in the beginning could come off as obnoxious. It might make you look like you are trying to hijack the interview, which could annoy the hiring manager. There is no need to rush, some of your questions will likely get answered naturally during your conversation with them. However, you don’t want to save them all for the end either. Additional information will help you sell yourself throughout the interview. Another great reason to sprinkle them in throughout the meeting, is to create a better overall dynamic. If you periodically counter with a question (as it relates to the topic at hand), the interview becomes a smooth dialog instead of an awkward interrogation. This approach leads to a pleasant conversation, where you would be able to communicate your interest in the role, genuine desire to be effective, and to build a career with their organization. Mastering the art of asking the right questions with perfect timing will help you relate to interviewer and impress them.