asking-great-questionsI always laugh to myself when I get to this part of the interview:

  • Me (the interviewer):  So, do you have any questions for me?
  • Candidate: Well, I did but I feel you really covered them all already.

I have no doubt that the candidate is sincere when they say this.  A large majority of candidates use that exact phrase or something similar at the end of every interview.  Imagine the odds that the specific questions that each candidate came prepared with were answered in full, by me, without my even knowing what their questions were!  The odds are even smaller when you consider that I do a very small amount of talking, usually in the form of asking (not answering) questions.

So why do I laugh to myself when I hear this?  The problem is the response means one of two things, 1) the candidate didn’t really have very many questions to begin with, or 2) they are just glad the interview is over, they think they did well, and they don’t want to do anything to spoil it.  Missed opportunity alert!

[quote]You might be surprised to learn that asking difficult, prepared, revealing questions can impress your interviewer.[/quote]

If you didn’t have that many questions to begin with then I may wrongly assume you are not that interested in the job, or you think you know more about the job than you actually do.  Neither of which convey a great lasting impression.  But let’s assume it is reason # 2, you are just glad the interview is over and you don’t want to spoil it.  That is perfectly fine and understandable.  Interviews are difficult.  It is almost like the dentist telling you he is finished cleaning your teeth and then asking if you want him to pick at your gums a few more times for good measure.  I think we would all say “um, nah, I think I am good!”

As in many things though, doing the right thing is usually the harder thing. So next time you are in an interview make a promise to yourself that you are going to ask a few questions.  You might be surprised to learn that asking well thought out, prepared questions can impress your interviewer.  It shows them you are interested, you are intelligent and you listen, you are serious about making a good decision for you and the company, and you are just not quite as desperate for the job as you might look!  All good things.

Below are some great suggested questions you can bring to your next interview.  Try to bring the list with you and ask a few (and a few is enough) when given the chance.

  • Why is the position open?
  • What is the most important functional task performed in this position?
  • Can you walk me through a routine day in this position?
  • What was the background of the last candidate that was successful in this position?
  • What is your (the interviewer’s) background? How long have you been with the company?
  • Who is doing the job now (if vacant)?
  • What are your overall goals as a company for this year?
  • How does filling this position effect the accomplishment of that goal?

I wish you the best on your next interview.  And if you have questions for me, feel free to add a comment below. 

[box type=”note”]Side note:  The list of questions above is a small portion of the actual questions we ask our client companies when they call us with a job opening.  We know from experience, they work well[/box]