You’ve more than likely heard the age-old mantra: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” When it comes to job interview, this has never been truer – but one crucial thing that many jobseekers neglect to realise is that the idea applies just as much to asking questions as it does to answering them.
Not only does asking questions show your interviewer that you are champing at the bit, it also gives you one more chance to fluff your tail feathers at them. Perhaps most importantly of all, it allows you to do a switcharoo on them and interview the interviewers. Besides from flummoxing them, it will also let you see whether you’re a good fit for the company and whether you’ll enjoy toiling away there 40 hours a week for the foreseeable future.
While some websites suggest an overwhelming amount of potential questions to ask in an interview, it’s best to keep things simple and ask no less than three and no more than five. Here are our five must-ask queries to make sure you’re all clued up before you leave that room.
1. What are the main challenges or issues being faced by the company and how can I help?
During a job interview, asking how you could make the organisation more successful is sweet, sweet music to a prospective employer’s ears, according to Marie Claire. “Every business leader and manager is continually asking this question of themselves, so to hear it from a potential employee feels like they have reached in your head and plucked out your deepest business wishes.” Sounds dead intimate. Meanwhile, the “can” instead of “could” suggests an immediacy to your assistance, which encourages the interviewer to envisage you as the successful candidate. Rudimentary mind control, innit?
2. Can you tell me a little bit about the team I’ll be working with?
Building upon the confidence displayed in question one, the “I’ll” (instead of “I’d”) plays even more on the assumption that the job is already yours. Of course, you don’t want to overplay your hand here, but confidence (not arrogance) is always an attractive quality. Furthermore, it also allows you to learn a little about your co-workers. Are they in a similar age bracket? Is there a working social life? Could you see yourself being content in such an environment? Are you going to wind up like Tim from ‘The Office’?
3. Do you have any reservations about my qualifications or my ability to fulfil the role here?
Though it might seem like shooting yourself in the foot to suggest that you’re not suitable to the vacancy, drawing attention to the idea off your own back actually displays your confidence in your own capabilities. Moreover, if doubts are raised, you’ll have a chance to shout them down (not literally, of course) which you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“This gives you an opportunity to know that the interviewer is thinking about you and gives you a last chance to clarify any misconceptions they may have or elaborate further on something important,” confirms Morgan Nichols of Torrey & Gray, the US-based recruitment firm. Thanks Morgan, that’s exactly what I was trying to say.
4. What has been the thing that you personally have enjoyed most about working here?
Inside every steely-eyed interviewer, there lurks a fragile human soul; however, there often seems to be an impersonal wall between interviewer and interviewee in such situations. This question can act as an icebreaker to knock down those barriers and forge a deeper human connection with your prospective co-worker.
At the same time, it also gives you an insight into some of the perks of the job about which you might not previously have been aware. And we all love perks, right?
5. Where do we go now?
Who knew that Axl Rose was such a fountain of knowledge when it comes to interview tips? According to those clever clogs over at Forbes magazine, this is the single most important query to slap down on the table before you vacate the premises. It shows the interviewer that you are keen to get the ball rolling and hopefully begin work for your new employers as soon as possible, whilst also allowing you an idea of the schmucks you’re up against and the timeframe within which you can expect a response. Make sure that before you leave, you ask that question loud and proud (but not too much of either, thank you very much).