The Prudent Use of Questions
Beware: An interview will quickly disintegrate into an interrogation or monologue unless you ask some high quality questions of your own. Candidate questions are the lifeblood of any successful interview, because they:
- Create dialogue, which will not only enable the two of you to learn more about each other, but will help you visualize what it’ll be like working together once you’ve been hired;
- Clarify your understanding of the company and the position responsibilities;
- Indicate your grasp of the fundamental issues discussed so far;
- Reveal your ability to probe beyond the superficial; and
- Challenge the employer to reveal his or her own depth of knowledge, or commitment to the job.
Your questions should always be slanted in such a way as to show empathy, interest, or understanding of the employer’s needs. After all, the reason you’re interviewing is because the employer’s company has some piece of work which needs to be completed, or a problem that needs correcting. Here are some questions that have proven to be very effective:
- What’s the most important issue facing your department?
- How can I help you accomplish this objective?
- How long has it been since you first identified this need?
- How long have you been trying to correct it?
- Have you tried using your present staff to get the job done? What was the result?
- What other means have you used? For example, have you brought in independent contractors, or temporary help, or employees borrowed from other departments? Or have you recently hired people who haven’t worked out?
- Is there any particular skill or attitude you feel is critical to getting the job done?
- Is there a unique aspect of my background that you’d like to exploit in order to help accomplish your objectives?
Questions like these will not only give you a sense of the company’s goals and priorities, they’ll indicate to the interviewer your concern for satisfying the company’s objectives.