Scoring a job interview after applying for a weeks is a wonderful feeling. It’s the next stepping stone to securing that position you wanted — and advancing your career.
It can also leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. The more you want to get hired, the more pressure you put on yourself.
Here’s the good news: you can do great. It just takes some preparation ahead of time. And I’ll show you how.
You can review common interview questions, practice speaking out loud, and talk about yourself and experience. That’s a good start, but too many candidates forget a crucial element of an interview: interviews are a two-way street.
Interviews Go Both Ways
You might feel you’re walking into an interrogation room when you come in for an interview. After all, the hiring manager wants to know all about you, your skills, and what you could bring to the table.
Naturally, they’ll ask you a lot of questions.
If you’ve taken our Interview Prep Blueprint course, you already have winning answers for the most common interview questions like “tell me about yourself,” and “what’s your biggest weakness” (without saying “I’m a perfectionist.”).
But do yo know how to answer one of the most critical questions most candidates receive: “Do you have any questions for me?”
Don’t be shy, the questions you ask are just as important as the answers you give. A well thought-out question shows that you:
- Took the time to understand the company and industry
- Know that interviewing is a two-way street (all high value candidates know this)
- Paid enough attention to know what has already been answered during the interview
- Have basic communication skills, and can carry on an intelligent conversation
An interview is your chance to sell yourself to the company and show them why you are the best fit. But you’re also there to ask them questions, learn about the company and the job, and decide if it’s a place you would like to work.
If you don’t ask any questions, it leaves the interviewer with a bad impression. The questions you ask confirm that you’re interested and invested in the position. They show you did your research, and that you’re thinking long-term.
Why Ask Questions in a Job Interview?
Take some time to think about what’s important for you in a job. Consider what’s important to you, both in your career and your lifestyle.
Your job may take up more time in your week than loved ones, continuing education, or hobbies. It’s smart to ask the key questions and decide if this is the place you want to be spending the majority of your time.
And asking questions allows you to show your interest and curiosity in the position. It demonstrates you’re invested in making this a good fit for all parties involved.
What to Ask In Your Interview
Most hiring managers and interviewers will go through the questions they have for you first. After they’ve finished, it’s your turn at the end of the interview.
If an interviewer doesn’t ask if you have questions, speak up! Shyness will hurt you here. You need to politely let them know you questions about the position and the company you’d like to ask.
Not sure what to say at this point? The most meaningful questions will come from your genuine interest.
Ask about things you honestly want to know more about — but keep it professional and try to avoid entirely self-serving questions.
In other words, instead of asking, “how fast can I get a raise?” you might say, “is there room for advancement here if I provide value to the company?”
Questions to ask in a job interview – use these examples to get your creative juices flowing:
- Tell me a little about the team/the people I’ll be working with
- What is your favorite thing about the group and the culture here?
- Why is this position open?
- What do you like most the time you’ve spent at this company?
- What would an ideal candidate add to the company?
- How will this position be evaluated?
- Are there opportunities to learn new skills?
- Is the company open to innovation and new ways of doing things?
- What level of interaction should I expect with management? With coworkers?
- What have other employees struggled with in this position?
- How is the company expected to grow or change in the next 5 years?
Be honest with yourself and ask questions you actually want to know the answers. How else could you know if this employer is in line with with your long-term goals? Get enough information that you actually know what you are signing up for!
How to Ask Interview Questions
The key to leaving a positive impression on an interviewer is to phrase your questions in such a way that you aren’t flat-out asking for your own benefit.
Remember, you’re asking because you want to excel and succeed in the position and add real value to the business. The specific questions you ask will vary, depending on your needs, wants, and career goals.
Looking for a mission driven organization, or a fast-paced corporate culture with lots of opportunities? Ask about the company culture, current projects, or future growth to get a feel for this information.
Whatever your specific situation, asking the right questions helps you understand whether or not the job will be a great fit.
Questions to Avoid During An Interview
As a general rule, conversations regarding compensation (salary, benefits, vacation days, etc) should wait until the offer phase of your job search. It’s important to keep the focus on your work history and reasons why you’re a great candidate during the interview phase.
Asking questions about comp during your interviews hurts you in two ways. First, it takes the focus off of how great you are. Second, it hints that you care more about money than finding a good fit.
Have you ever been shopping for a car? You walk the lot, listen to the stereo, and take a test drive before the salesman ever mentions price, financing, or payments. That stuff comes at the end, when both parties are pretty sure they want to move forward.
The same applies in your interviews. You’re selling yourself, and the worst thing you can do is take a timeout to remind the hiring manager how much money you want. It disrupts the flow, and makes them wonder if you care about the role or just want a paycheck.