I recently interviewed an excellent candidate for a position at a growing start-up business. The woman had an incredible resume, an infectious personality, and, seemingly, a great work ethic. She was dressed for success, with a style fitting our culture. She answered all of my questions well, and seemed like a potential excellent fit for our company. Yet, despite all of this, she didn’t receive another interview, and I absolutely couldn’t seriously consider hiring her. What went wrong?
When I asked her what questions she had for me, the job candidate replied, “None, really. I’ve been following you guys online for awhile and feel like I know everything already.”
That was a fatal error, of course. By not asking questions, she told me she wasn’t truly interested in learning more, in creating value, and in our company. I couldn’t hire an otherwise very-well-qualified candidate because, in her lack of questions, she displayed a lack of passion for, interest in, and curiosity about our company and the position.
The most important thing you must do in every interview is to ask great questions.
The key is to ask great questions- not to ask questions that you should know the answers to already (“What does the position entail?) or questions that make it all about you (“What is your vacation policy?”)
Here are 9 great questions you can use or make your own on your next job interview. Obviously they’re generic and should be tailored based on circumstances:
1) Who would make the ideal candidate for this position?
2) How will the work I’ll be doing contribute to the organization’s mission?
3) What were the best things about the last person who held this position?
4) What are three ways I can contribute to the company beyond the job description?
5) How can I best contribute to the department’s goals?
6) How do you see me best contributing to the corporate culture and morale?
7) What do you see as the biggest challenges of working here and how can I overcome those challenges?
8) What is your vision for where the company or department will be in one year? In 3-5 years?
9) How can I best help you and the team succeed?
Of course, the more research you do in advance, the more you can ask specific questions about the company’s recent news, blog posts, product launches, plans, etc. But here’s the bottom line:
Ask questions that demonstrate genuine interest in the organization and how you can fit in to their success.
Remember, also, job interviewing is a two-way-street! By asking questions, you can get a much better sense of the organization you’re interviewing at, and the extent to which you’d even want to work there.
An interview is just like a date. A date is a two way street– where both parties are seeing if tis a right fit. The dater who talks and talks, even if they’re a good match, seems disinterested in the other person. It’s the same with interviewing. Show that you are invested and interested in the person, by asking questions.
When job seekers come in with not only great answers, but with great questions, I get excited about the prospects of hiring them. And hopefully, they can get some great answers from us, and get excited about the prospects of working there as well.