Seven Questions to Ask When You’re Interviewing

The interview process in a job search yields some amazing stories, no matter what side of the table you’re on.

During one of my searches, I had a very high level executive fall asleep during my interview.  At lunch in a public place.  In front of two members of his team.  It was incredible.  I was certain I wouldn’t get that job, but I was wrong.  Apparently lulling that decision maker to sleep by being so boring was a great strategy because I landed that gig.

Interviewing and being the interviewer are both art forms.  The interview is an awkward dance, typically led by the interviewer asking a series of robotic, standard questions.  Sometimes you get a great interviewer that asks relevant and specific questions.

No matter which interviewer you are in front of, the time will come in the conversation where they ask, “So what questions do you have for me?”

Depending on the mood of the interview, this is your chance to shine.  What questions you ask will tell far more than the answers you’ve already provided.  The ability to ask good questions and display what you’ve picked up in the interview is a tremendous signal to an interviewer.  Plus it’s the last thing they’ll likely remember about you as you leave.

Have your questions written down in advance, either on your iPad or on paper.  Not your phone and certainly not simply in your head.  Don’t rattle them off straight down the list while avoiding eye contact.  Rather, ask your questions in the order of relevance as the conversation unfolds.  Be genuine, authentic and calm.

Here is a list of seven questions that may be helpful on your next interview:

1 – What specifically about your culture sets you apart from your competition?  Let them showcase the strengths of the company and see if their strengths resonate with what you are looking for in a team.

2 – If you had to summarize the company’s direction in three words, what would they be?  It will likely take the interviewer a few moments to gather her thoughts, but her three words will reveal a great deal about where the company is headed (or not headed).

3 – If you found the perfect candidate for this role, how would that impact your specific day to day job?  Especially if this individual will be your boss, get as specific as possible here.  What challenges does this person have, what keeps them up at night, where can you help immediately?

4 – What motivates you?  We all love to talk about ourselves.  This short, direct sentence can open the floodgates to business philosophy, leadership strategy, personal development, even family dynamics.

5 – What systems are in place to ensure this role has a great chance at success?  It’s a positive way of finding out if you’ll get the tools you need to hit it out of the park.

6 – Beyond performing the duties in the job description, how can this role add immediate value to the organization?  Working hard and doing the job description is a given, don’t ask about those at all.  Ask how you can add value beyond that.  The answer may lead to a specific conversation about a skill set you have that has nothing to do with this specific job.

7 – How is conflict dealt with here?  Interviewees that are willing to lean into tougher questions simply stand out more.  No company is perfect, so get below the surface as much as possible in your conversations.

Would love to hear others that have been helpful.  Good luck.

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