Make a Positive, Lasting Impression at Your Next Job Interview
In a job interview, there’s usually one clear sign that the hiring manager is ready to wrap things up. “Do you have any questions for me?”
Now, if the interview has gone exceptionally well and you feel like you got all of the information you needed, you might be tempted to simply say, “no.” Likewise, if the whole thing has gone horribly, you may figure there’s no point in prolonging the misery.
I understand. But never give in to those impulses. And never squander the opportunity to end the interview by asking questions.
When you ask questions (the right kinds of questions), you gain so much more than information.
Smart, insightful, well-prepared questions portray you as just that: smart, insightful and well prepared. They also convey your interest in the job and the organization. Isn’t that how you want the hiring manager to remember you? Bright, thoughtful, eager to know everything you can about the company, organized and intelligent?
Here are 7 questions to help you do that.
1. Reference Your Own Research: Relevant Fact about the Organization
Not all organizations are large enough to be mentioned in the local or national news. (Most aren’t.) But that shouldn’t stop you from doing your homework and showing up to the interview with a savvy question about what you’ve learned. “I heard recently that the company might be adding a product line that’s more targeted to millennial's. Could you tell me more about those plans?"
2. What is the most important way this position supports the vision and mission of the organization?
Asking this question not only helps you gain a better understanding of how important the job is to the company, it also portrays you as someone who is focused on the success of the entire organization, not just yourself. What if the interviewer already told you what’s most important about the job and has specifically spelled out how it fits into the vision and mission? No problem. Refer to when they said that, and ask a follow up: “You described how critical this role is to the company’s mission. That’s very exciting to me. Can you tell me how you would measure my success in helping achieve that? What’s a home run within the first six months, within the first year?
3. How and how frequently is performance feedback structured and delivered?
Here, you need to get a sense for how seriously this manager takes their role as mentor, coach, champion of the people who report to them. If you get an answer that describes a painful annual process of filling out forms and talking through them with each employee, don’t expect this manager to communicate helpfully with you about how you’re really doing on the job and what you can do to improve.
4. What do you love most about working here?
You deserve to get a window onto what’s lovable about this workplace – and into this hiring manager’s level of engagement with it. If you get an eye-roll, a long, sad pause, or a tragically empty answer like, “it’s a paycheck,” you’ve got some serious pondering to do at home. But if the manager’s eyes light up and they proceed to tell you things that sound positive to you, you’ve accomplished two things. First, you’ve gotten a ringing endorsement of the work environment. Second, you’ve conveyed to the new boss that yes, loving where you work is important to you.
5. What is the history of this position? How will the duties be transitioned to me?
Every job – even a newly minted one – comes with baggage. This question gives you a head start on sorting through some of it. It also shows the hiring manager that you possess the smarts – and emotional intelligence – to do your homework on a role’s history before leaping into it.
If it’s a new role, why was it created and who previously owned the responsibilities that are now part of it?
When did the last person leave and why? Were they promoted? Did they retire? How long were they in the position? How many people have held the job in the past few years? If you’re walking into a revolving door, you need to know that and understand why.
6. I’m a person who likes to hit the ground running. Of course there’s always a startup period with a learning curve but could you describe the onboarding process?
Here, you’re strongly telegraphing your work ethic, your desire to perform well and turn in strong results. The answer you get will tell you whether the hiring manager has full command of the tools and resources you’ll need to be successful. That’s something you should know before accepting an offer.
7. Could I get a quick tour? I’d love to meet some of the people I’d be working with.”
As with all of these questions, this one serves more than one purpose. First, obviously, you a tour is helpful to you on multiple levels. You’ll get a sense for the environment itself. Do the work-spaces seem productive, comfortable, well designed, sufficiently sunlit? More importantly, what about the people? Do they look happy to be there? Are they warm and welcoming toward you? Beyond all of that, this question shows the manager that you are, indeed, serious about this job. You’re interested enough to want to take a step closer, check out the digs, try things on for size.