The questions you ask during interview play a key role in the impression you make on a prospective employer – choose wisely...
Even at the most innovative companies, interviews can follow a predictable pattern. When the interviewer is comfortable that they’ve completed their assessment of you, a familiar question rolls around:
“Do you have any questions for us?”
What you choose to ask can have a greater impact than you might suspect.
If you produce the same questions as everyone else (“What do you like most about your job?”, “What does your ideal candidate look like?”), you might learn some valuable information, but you can’t expect to be stand out for your innovation or make yourself memorable to the interviewer.
If you ask something more thought-provoking, however, you can not only set yourself apart from the competition but take the conversation into unexplored territory which the interviewer has not talked about with other applicants.
Your conversation becomes memorable, and you have a chance to score points not available to other candidates by discussing things they don’t discuss.
Having a selection of insightful, business-focused questions ready can help you distinguish yourself from the crowd and create a unique exchange with the interviewer.
Here are 6 examples and why they work:
1. What short-term opportunities do you see for the team to improve results?
Asking this shows that you’re focused on coming into the role to make an impact.
You move away from typical interview generalities (candidate experience, desired skills etc.) to focus on tangible results and what actions can be taken to deliver better outcomes. At the end of the day, this is what the interviewer needs most on their team – no amount of experience or ability matters unless it’s applied to make a difference.
Making the question about team rather than the individual role can also reassure the interviewer that you understand your function as being part of a wider collaborative effort.
2. What’s the best investment the team has made?
This question demonstrates an appreciation of budget and resources, understanding that team results are shaped by the resources at their disposition.
Linking work outcomes to the investment and platform provided by the company reveals an ability to think about team performance from a more strategic angle, showing the interviewer that you have the capacity to think beyond the immediate confines of your personal role.
It also gives the interviewer an opportunity to talk about positive aspects of the team you’ll be joining - if they are the hiring manager then they may well have been responsible for the investment they choose as their answer.
3. How do you see the team in 3 years’ time?
Asking questions with a time horizon creates confidence that you are thinking about your position in the long term, and expect to be part of that team after 3 years.
The question implies a level of ambition, probing on opportunities that may be created as the team expands.
It also invites the interviewer to talk about their own growth goals, and to share the plans they have for developing the group. You then have the opportunity to ensure that your interview performance and responses synch with these objectives.
4. Are there trends you’re worried you’re not keeping pace with?
This shows that you view your role in a commercial context, and don’t expect anything outside your job description to be someone else’s problem.
Rather than be a passive member of the team, you are aware of threats and challenges in business and assume shared responsibility for overcoming these together with your manager and colleagues.
Raising the issue of trends also takes the conversation into a wider reflection on industry news and developments, where you can have a chance to showcase your expertise and share your opinions of where things are headed.
5. What will be the next big investment the team will make?
Probing around future change to the team illustrates a potential to think big as well as small.
In addition to joining the team to excel in your assigned function, you’re also interested in the roadmap for the team’s evolution.
Are there any big changes coming up?
What tools, infrastructure or additional talent would help the team’s performance move to the next level?
You demonstrate a collaborative mindset, focus on team success and excitement for the future.
6. What are you most proud of about the team?
By inviting the interviewer to talk about what they’re proud of, you switch the conversation onto their own career and contribution, which inevitably generates a positive vibe in the discussion.
Putting them and what they’re proud of in the spotlight helps show that you’re aware of your manager’s own career, and creates an opportunity for you to make clear that you will be an asset to their personal development and ambitions – joining the team to give, to support and not simply to follow instructions.
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