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Smart Questions to Ask in an Interview

Posted by Bob Corlett on August 16, 2012

After you have deftly answered the fusillade of interview questions (ideally in the 3 minute CAR answer format), the hiring manager will usually end the interview by asking,  “Do you have any questions for me?”

Smart questions demonstrate your preparation, understanding, and strategic thinking skills. This can be a better opportunity to demonstrate your expertise than in any other section of the interview. We know this is often one of the most memorable sections of the interview for the hiring manager. 

So use your time wisely. Don’t close with a declaration that you are the best qualified person for the job, because you don’t know who you are competing with. Don’t ask “How did I do?” or ask anything about salary or benefits. First confirm how much time you have, and then ask your most important questions first (just in case the hiring manager gives you a long answer that runs out the clock). 

The problem is that some candidates don’t have any good questions, and others seem to be asking questions only to make themselves look good. Don't say, "Do you need 'X'? Because I am really good at that." it appears far too self-serving.

What really makes people look good is when they have their own decision framework to evaluate whether the job is a good fit. So what kind of questions are best for that? 

 1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?

To be successful in an interview you need to think beyond what you want, and understand how you can help the manager achieve what they want by hiring you.

2.    What are the common attributes of your top performers?

Every organization is different, and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations. You want to understand what is expected in their work culture.

3.     What factors drive results for the organization?

It's important to know what business problems you like to solve, and whether the organization really needs your particular set of skills. Great candidates want to know how to achieve impact. 

4.    How do you plan to deal with...?

Every organization faces obstacles: technological changes, competitors entering the market, shifting economic trends, etc.. You want to know how they plan to deal with it, and they want to know you are eager to help them solve that problem.

Conclude the interview by saying you are very interested in the role, and would welcome an opportunity to continue the conversation. Then send a follow up email to thank them for their time.

 

See our advice for virtual interviews.

 

Topics: Job Interview Preparation