Set Yourself Apart in a Job Interview Part 2

Interesting that most people who are in the market for a new position focus most of their attention on preparing for the questions the interviewer will ask them. Possibly as important as being ready with examples of your strengths and how you will contribute to the organization, is having questions to ask the interviewer.
Any good interviewer will ask the applicant, “What questions do you have for me?” and trust me; they WANT you to ask questions. The questions you ask will be evaluated by the interviewer and will tell them a lot about you.

So, why not prepare some questions in advance so that you are prepared. You will be doing extensive research on the organization (you’d better be…!) so, while you are doing that, think of some questions that will set you apart from all the other applicants because that is your whole purpose in the interview—selling yourself as the best applicant EVER for this position.

Consult the organization’s website for information you can use to prepare your questions but don’t overlook other sources such as Glassdoor.com, a site that aggregates third-party comments about organizations. Use your Linkedin and Facebook connections to find people you know who work at the company and ask them questions. You also should follow the organization’s Twitter feed on what’s new there.

This is the time to find out whether or not this is a place where you want to work and where you will be happy and fulfilled in your work. This is not the time to focus on what this job will do for your career. Please know that the interviewer really doesn’t care that you think this job will prepare you for something greater or will fulfill some lifelong dream—all he/she wants to know is what you can do for the organization!

Here are some possible questions to ask in any interview (see below for questions to ask the person you would be working for):
· “Tell me about the culture here.”
· “What is the average length of service for employees here?”
· “Why is this position open at this time?”
· “Why isn’t the position being filled with someone from inside the organization?”
· “Why did you choose to work at the XYZ Company?”
· “Tell me about the organization’s structure and leadership?”
· “What are the greatest challenges facing this organization over the next year or so?”

Questions to ask the person who would be your manager:
· “Tell me about your managerial style?”
· “If I am selected for this position, what would be my greatest challenges?”
· “What are the skills and traits of someone who would be successful in this position?”
· “Can you tell me what a typical day would be like if I am selected for this position?”
· “With whom would I be working the most closely?”
· “How do you see me benefiting the organization?”
· “How is performance evaluated here? What success factors do you apply?
· “Are there other job duties not mentioned in the job posting?”
· “After I prove myself to be a good contributor, are there opportunities for training and development and, down the road, for promotion?”
· “When will you be making a decision on this position?”
· “May I call you if I have additional questions?”

Realistically, you will not be able to ask all these questions but pick out 3-4 that will help you understand the job, the organization and the management. Write them down and take them with you to the interview and keep in mind that having no questions is not a good thing—sends the message you aren’t a deep thinker and you don’t want that impression to be left with the interviewer. Send us questions you’ve used that have provided you with good information to make a decision on whether or not to join an organization. Remember—it is as important for you to like them as for them to like you!


1 comment ()

1. Kurt Cowles wrote:
Totally agree with your premise Cornelia, I've done a lot of interviewing, both to fill direct report positions as well as the "HR " interview, and I do value and assess candidates on their questions. If they ask routine ones that they could have gotten the answers from our website, that tells me they didn't research enough, but if they ask probing questions about the challenges we face, what they can expect once they join us, clarification on our business model or startegy, then that shows me they've given some thought to how they can contribute as well as if it is a good fit for them. Often, the differentiator can be if they showed enough interest and preparation to ask some good questions!

January 16, 2013 @ 2:03 PM

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