Four questions to ask in a job interview – and four questions to answer
Is there anyone who really loves being interviewed? To me it feels like preparing for a school or work presentation – albeit with a little more at stake. There is the potential of a job, a somewhat more exciting outcome than a decent grade. My point is that the process and motions are similar.
When I get a call to come in for an interview, my preparation process–like a presentation–begins with research. I research the company, review everything on their website, scan the media for any potential stories about the company and people interviewing me, and investigate what I can offer. I also prepare for all the standard questions that get asked in a variety of ways but essentially probe for the same information. You know the ones:
- What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- How has your background prepared you for this position? And what interests you about the job?
I generally have answers to those questions planned out and tweak them depending on the position. However, the one thing I often leave to the last moment or even forget to do, is prepare questions for the interviewer(s). It’s a very important part of the interview. Asking questions demonstrates motivation, interest, and provides you with a better understanding of what you’re getting yourself into.
Interviewers expect and hope you have good questions that allow them to further explain the position and the company. Questions also give you more insight into the company culture and what it might be like to work for your potential boss.
Here are some questions that can give you an edge before you blindly accept an offer.
- What is the culture/environment like?
This question will give you information on how structured or flexible the job is, and if you’ll be working with others or alone. These are issues worth considering and will help to determine if it’s a right fit.
- What does an average workday look like?
This gives you some insight regarding the type of work you can expect on a daily basis, and it allows you to talk about your skill set and experience in relation to the job.
- Do you have specific goals for the position?
Understanding if there are any goals will allow you to further probe about how the job may be of benefit to advancing your person career goals or about how your success in the position might be measured.
- What is your ideal candidate for the position?
I have to admit I struggle with this question, but it is one that I continue to see pop up. My feeling is that it really puts the interviewer on the spot, and it can be answered using a couple of the above questions. Regardless, it gives you the opportunity to tailor any of your responses to meet the ‘ideal’ candidate. It also allows you to introduce new ideas that the interviewer(s) may not have considered. In doing so you may set yourself apart from the other candidates.
Are you good at planning your interview questions? Are there other questions you’d recommend?