The Interview Questions You Need to Ask
When handled with skill, the final minutes of a job interview can consolidate the positive impression you worked to build throughout the meeting. Conversely, an ill-prepared or awkward finale can undo much of the effort you made to earn a seat at the interview table. A fundamental part of interview research is to understand what you need to know about the opportunity before finishing the meeting.
Try these tips to add polish to your interview closure.
To prepare for a professional finish, ask yourself before the interview:
What information do I need to make a sound decision if offered this role?
Research the company’s performance, recent news and goals before the interview to minimise time spent discussing easily-gathered information and free up more time for you to demonstrate your worth.
Listen actively to the interviewer during the conversation. Asking a question that has been answered earlier – even because of nerves — could leave the impression that you are inattentive and have poor listening skills.
Determine the interviewer’s sincerity if you are invited to ask questions at the end of the interview and look for signs of impatience such as pen tapping to decide if the interviewer is genuine. If you are confident that the offer to ask questions is genuine, have the most important two or three questions ready to make the most of the opportunity.
What if I don’t have any questions at the end of an interview?
If the interviewer appears keen to wind up the interview or your questions have already been addressed, an appropriate response is, “I don’t have any questions at this time as you have covered everything off extensively, but I’d like to thank you and confirm my interest. I believe I can contribute … [conclude with a summary of the most relevant benefits you bring to the role and organisation].”
The basic questions to end an interview
Basic information about the position should have been provided but ensure you know the location, any direct reports, travel requirements and the normal working hours. For instance, ‘occasional overtime’ means different things to different people. I once applied for a role and didn’t learn until the interview that, “There’s some night work involved,” meant 14 consecutive night shifts.
Ensure you leave the interview understanding the rest of the recruitment process and anticipated start date. Will you need to take half-days off your current job for medical examinations or psychological appraisals? Your prospective employer may want the soonest possible start date while your current employer might require a longer resignation period.
The useful questions to ask
One of the most valuable questions is to ask the priorities for the first six or 12 months. The interviewer will define the most important tasks and you can sell yourself and respond briefly with your specific experience and skills that address the employer’s challenges.
It can also be worthwhile to ask, “What are the first priorities on commencement?” The question helps define the employer’s immediate problems, especially if the position is new or vacant and the wish list has grown long. You will be given clues about which of your skills will be most valuable at the onset and which you can mention in response to the interviewer’s answer.
The interviewer’s opinion of company culture, values, management and decision making styles will be biased but are valuable questions that can develop a deeper understanding of how the organisation functions.
Questions to leave unasked
Avoid asking questions relating to salary and conditions until you’re the preferred candidate or the interviewer raises the subject. First interviews with a recruitment agency are often more frank in relation to salary — be prepared to discuss your current salary package and expectations.
Be wary of asking detailed questions about staff benefits and promotion – while your mission is to find out as much as you can about the company, role and prospects, you are still a candidate and need to emphasise the benefits you can bring to the company.
A popular interview closing question is, “Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job or anything else you’d like to know?” The interviewer’s job is to determine your suitability and if he or she needs to ask more questions. Avoid planting the seed of doubt as the interviewer will be doing enough of that already!
At the conclusion of the interview, thank the interviewer for his or her time, shake hands and confirm your interest in the role. Remember to avoid phoning family and friends about the interview until well outside the building.
Preparation and practice will hone your interview skills and give you and confidence to finish each meeting with a flourish.
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