It’s a sure sign that the interview is almost over when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them. Some applicants make the mistake of thinking that this is no longer part of the process and proceeds to slack off. They don’t realize the additional opportunity presented to them and simply don’t ask a question. Whatever you do, never ever say that you have no questions. It’s a signal to the interviewer that you are not interested in the job. You are also passing up an opportunity to find out some things you need to know to decide whether or not you want the job.
Additionally, Interviewers often judge candidates on the nature of the questions that they ask. For example, if you ask about hours of pay or details of leave entitlements can give the impression that you are a slacker. Interviews are all about selling yourself, and as any sales professional will tell you, questions allows the other party to verbalize their needs and desires. A good applicant is a good listener. He will bridge the gap between what he is selling (his skills) and what the other party wants. Here are the big questions (and some minor but related ones) that you should definitely ask an interviewer:
Question #1 – Had you had the chance to review my resume?
Believe it or not, many interviewers come ill-prepared. They rely on stock questions and wind up just winging it. You can’t blame them, between interviewing, deciding whom to hire and actually hiring, there’s little time to prepare for each candidate. Take note of the phrasing. You don’t want to come across as demanding. The use of the word “chance” communicates your understanding that he is busy, and “review” lets him know that you assume he has read your resume but has no opportunity to study it. You can then transform a challenge to an opportunity for you to present your qualifications. By offering to lend a hand, you come across as the solution rather than the problem.
Don’t be dismayed if the interviewer replies in the negative. Simply continue by saying: “Would it be helpful if I point out the highlights of my qualifications?” If he says yes, then give him a run-down of your skills. Conclude by asking if there is anything else he wants to know about your qualifications. This is the same answer to give in case the interviewer says he has read and studied your resume.
Question # 2 – What results do you want me to to produce?
This is the natural progression to the first question above. Now that you reviewed your qualifications for him, the next step for him would be to determine how you can fit into the organization. By asking this question, you show that you are interested not just in being hired, but in doing the job. You will also subtly shift the focus from you to what he needs. You send a message that this job is more than just a paycheck, but a means to be of service to the company, increase the productivity and solve their problems.
For those applying for managerial positions, you can show your interest in the company by further asking:
– Who are the members of the team and what are they like?
– Are there issues plaguing the team right now?
– What are the challenges facing the team now?
– Are there deliverables that you expect me (if hired) to deliver and what is the timetable?
If you are interviewing for part-time positions, you can ask any of the following questions:
– How will this position fit into the rest of the team?
– Are there other people occupying the same position, and how is it working out?
– Exactly how long is the contract and what are my deliverables?
– Is an extension likely? Will it be possible to join the company on a full-time basis?
Asking this line of questions allows you to insert yourself into the operations of the organization. The interviewer gets a glimpse of how well the fit will be if he gets you. This is a strategy often employed in retail industries. They let you examine the merchandise or sometimes even offer free trials in the hope that you realize that you need this product and “gotta have it”. On your end, you can assess the expectations of the employer. But do not tip your hand at this time. File away the information for future use. If you feel that the expectations are too much, you can use this later if and when you negotiate for your salary.
Question #3- What do you consider to be the ideal qualifications for this position?
After listening to question #2, round off the interview by asking this question. This will connect your skills to your prospective employer’s needs. If you’re lucky, the connection will be readily evident. Most of the time however, this may not happen. It is up to you then to draw a straight line between the two. Your objective is to guide the interviewer to this conclusion, and not push him into it. Nobody like’s to be forced into anything. Close the sale by asking “do you think I have the right qualifications for the job?”
On the other hand, if there’s a gaping hole between the two, do your best to bridge it. Be ready with specific examples of how you can answer the problems. If the gap is as big as the Gulf of Mexico, you’d be better off not drawing attention to it. Instead, focus on other things on his list of qualifications that is a fit for you. If there is just no way around it, respond as positively as you can. Make it an opportunity for growth and emphasize your eagerness to learn.
One final point: In case you are caught off-guard with the response, maybe it’s time rethink if this is the job for you. But don’t voice your thoughts out yet especially to the interviewer. The object of the interview is to excite the interviewer’s interest in you. Maybe there’s another position that is a better fit for you. Or he knows someone else who is looking for someone like you. All in all, his interest in you is something of value that may bear fruits later on.
In conclusion, do not ignore this portion of the interview. In the same way that you prepare your answers to their questions, you should also prepare your questions for them.
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