Ask great questions in an interview

An interview is a two-sided event. Yes, the company interviewing you will have a lot of questions and will “size you up” to determine if you are a good fit for them.

You need to do the same thing. Just because a company is big and has an opening doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. You should use as much discretion as the company managers who will interview you.

For this new job to be a winner, it must be a fit for you and the company.

One of the things you want to do is ask good questions, , , probing questions that will give you insight into the environment and what type of company you are going to join assuming you get an offer and accept.

One of the best ways to make a great impression in an interview is to ask great questions. It shows you have a sincere interest and an intellectual curiosity. It tells an interviewing manager you are engaged in the conversation and aren’t just going through the motions.

Here are a few questions I like to use when I interview:

  • Why is the position open?
  • Was the previous manager successful? If not, why?
  • What do you believe are the 3 keys to success in this position?
  • What are the company’s long-term plans?
  • What are the biggest challenges you have?
    • In the company
    • In the position
  • What do you think the primary focus should be in the first 90 days?

Their answers may create more questions. In addition, their questions to you will probably make you think of things you want to ask.

I think one of the important parts of a successful interview is to establish a comfortable rapport with the interviewer. The more the interview feels like a comfortable and open discussion as if you were enjoying a coffee together the better.

A key in doing this is to simply have a comfortable two-way conversation with the person interviewing you. Having questions handy will help you do this.

Another thing is to avoid putting lots of pressure on yourself. Be confident, not cocky, , , and be sincere in your desire to learn more about the company and the position.

A key to reduce the pressure so you will be less nervous is to realize that the worst thing that can happen is that they don’t make you an offer. It’s not a life or death situation if you don’t get the job.

It’s OK to be nervous, , , it means you care. That’s a good thing, , , but displaying too much nervousness can be a negative in an interview.

Remember, you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you, , , and if both parties like what they see there will probably be an offer in the making.

GOOD LUCK in your interviews.

2 responses to “Ask great questions in an interview

  1. Great post. Here’s my favorite
    In an interview for a helpdesk position in 2004 the first question I was asked was: “Can you bake me a cake?” MY response was “What kind would you like?” The interviewer responded with “You’re hired, now lets finish the interview.”

    When the interview was over I asked why he told me I was hired after the first question and here’s what he told me. “A helpdesk job is a customer service job. The first thing you wanted to know was what my expectations were, and there’s no way you could meet them if you don’t know what they are.”

    The response to that question has always helped me focus on the other questions I ask during an interview that aren’t technical in nature.

    • Richard, excellent example. It’s what I mean by having a “normal conversation” when you are in an interview. You were comfortable in your response and so was the interviewer, , , thanks for sharing.

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