When interviewing, there’s one thing that I would like you to remember, “The interview is just as much for you to get to know the organization as it is for the interviewer to get to know you.” To not ask questions during an interview is like not asking questions on a first date for fear that it will prevent them from wanting to propose to you. Well may you’re not quite there yet (but you get my drift).
Interviews are a natural “get-to-know-you” phase of the hiring process. If you are uncertain of good questions to ask, stick to those questions that make an interviewer become more present, reach deeply for an answer, and on a subject for which they are happy to discuss. Here are four questions that really stand out.
What are three challenges you presently face that you would want the person hired in this role to solve?
When you ask this question, it demonstrates to the interviewer that you care about what is important to him/her and to the team. Challenges are meant to be solved. If you have solved a similar challenge from past experience, this is a great opportunity to share it with the hiring manager.
What are your top three priorities and/or initiatives for the department this year?
Here is another question that shows you care about the manager and the team. If you have had similar initiatives and team priorities in the past, share this with them. The more experience you have with the work they are currently doing is an indication to the manager that you will be able to come up to speed more quickly. The faster you are able to adjust, the more quickly you can begin producing.
What one area of this department’s reputation would you change immediately?
Similar to the previous two questions, this one is also thought provoking. The manager will have to share with you what he/she feels is the true reputation of the team. This is where you hear about the “bad,” and the “ugly.” In responding to the manager’s answer to this question, do not offer a solution to how they can go about changing the one aspect of the reputation. Instead, relate if you can, to your understanding of what was mentioned. If you have managed a team or a department with the same challenge, share your story. Share your experience in this area. This translates a lot better than trying to tell them what they can do to fix a challenge when you are not an employee (yet).
Is there anything that would prevent you from feeling 100% confident that I am the best person for this role?
This is a courageous question to ask, and you must be willing to hear the truth. As an example, if the hiring manager shares with you that they thought you had more management or tech experience and although it’s not a deal-breaker, this may lead to concern. When shared, this is a great time to counter the question by introducing similar work or transferable skills that you could bring from that experience to this opportunity. Always be prepared to close the gap on their concerns.
Asking these questions will give you an opportunity to express your interest and provides you with a chance to highlight the excellence that you’ll bring to the team. Listen closely to their responses and be sure to share your experience having overcome the same challenges, delivering on similar priorities, and improving a department’s reputation. When the interviewer shares with you any uncertainties they have, use the opportunity to clarify and/or address the concerns.
Remember, avoid being the person that asks the same questions as others and stand clear of being the personal that doesn’t asks any questions at all. Strike the ideal balance with the right types of questions.
Cheers to a successful career.