Interviews are a two-way process. You need to make sure that the role is a suitable match for you and your personality as well as demonstrating your skills and expressing your career aspirations to the interviewer.
Many of our most successful and senior hires are often on the back of informal discussions, often initiated in a humble coffee shop. Get to know your interviewer. Find common ground. Ask questions. Be genuinely interested in them and their organisation. It will pay dividends when they are deciding to hire you.
Keep your questions open and resist the temptation to jump in and start talking about how you prefer to work first. Ask. Listen. Respond accordingly.
Quick Tip : Try to begin with broad questions about the organisation and once you have initiated a good dialogue with the interviewer, start to ask questions that only apply to you.
Broad questions about the organisation
1) How would you describe the work culture here?
This question shows that you are looking to find out more about the people already working within the organisation. You are making an assessment on how to interact with potential colleagues, clients and customers. This indicates you’re a good self-manager who is aware of how to get the best out of yourself. This also enables interviewers to speak about the culture they have most usually helped to nurture and create.
We are all human. We all perform better when we are surrounded by like minded individuals and we thrive in positive environments. If you are applying to a sales position for example, it will be highly likely that the success of the role will be based on how regularly you hit your targets, key performance indicators and how much revenue you bring into the business.
But the culture within which you work will either make the job enjoyable and challenging or on the other hand, humiliating and give you an unhealthy dose of the ‘blues’ when stepping into the office. Some might love the blues (musically) but no-one likes the stepping into the office kind of blues.
What happens if you are having a tough run? Will you be supported? Or will you be reviewed and given a warning if the next target is not hit? How does the company operate? What makes it tick? Can you see yourself working in that environment?
Make sure the culture works for you.
2) You have recently introduced a new initiative; how will this benefit the organisation?
This type of question builds your credibility as a candidate.
It shows that you have done your research not only in the area that you will be working in but that you are also interested in the company overall. It says that you are looking to be part of a larger team and that you show a genuine interest in the strategic direction of the organisation.
You are in it for the long haul. Not just the salary increase, the promotion or to put food on the table until you land the role you are really looking for.
Mental box ticked in the interviewers mind.
Building a good dialogue with the interviewer
3) What do you like best about working here?
Here you are trying to connect with the hiring manager on a more personal level.
People love to talk about themselves. It makes them feel important and valued. They also tend to think rather fondly of the people that ask them. It’s often the softer, less logical reasons that sway individuals towards a certain way of thinking. You want them to want to hire you.
It’s very useful to get a bit of history about the interviewer and build up a profile about how they got themselves to where they are today. You will be showcasing your interpersonal skills, building rapport and making the interviewer relax and speak to you on a more personal level. This ties in very nicely with the interviewer feeling that you will be a good cultural fit for the organisation.
4) What areas could you improve in your department?
By asking this question you are putting yourself in the frame.
All employers have areas that they would like to see improved. Hiring for the position you are interviewing for may be one of the ways they are looking to do this!
By asking this question you are allowing the employer to talk honestly about things that quite possibly keep them awake at night. Tailor your response using examples of your skills and experience to help them envisage you as the individual that could help them make those improvements. To help them sleep at night….
This is what employers are looking for.
Questions that only apply to you
5) Do you have any reservations about my skills and experience that affect me performing this role?
Be brave and ask it.
This is the killer question that needs to be kept until the end of the interview for a few reasons. Firstly, you have allowed the interviewer to build up a good picture of you and engaged with them for long enough to help them relax and give you an honest opinion about any reservations they may have. Secondly, you should have had enough time during the interview process to think about crafting possible answers to any areas that you think you may need to work on to do the job effectively.
It’s best to demonstrate that you are open to constructive criticism and are willing to learn and implement any training/self improvement suggestions that may be put forward to you.
Remember to smile. Breathe. This is not a character assassination.
It’s an opportunity for you to dispel any doubts the interviewer may have of you and paint your skills and experience in a manner that enables the interviewer to think more creatively of how to use your skills to achieve the objectives they are looking to achieve.
It’s a partnership.
Asking relevant questions in an interview is a must.
Demonstrate that you have done your research on the job role and the organisation to build your credibility.
Don’t be afraid of asking for constructive criticism. It enables you to address any reservations the interviewer may take away with them.