If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that my approach for interviewing is very different from what you’ve probably done before.
I don’t think you should go into an interview with hat in hand asking for a job. I think you should approach it as a conversation. Instead of sitting down and just answering questions, you should engage in a conversation and ask questions yourself.
Let me tell you what happened to me several years ago while in the middle of an interview.
It was a several hour interview where I met with the VP of Tax, the Director of Tax and my final interview was with the Tax Manager who theoretically be my direct boss.
All 3 interviews had gone perfectly and since I had turned the interview into a conversation, my future boss and I had built great rapport in the 15 or so minutes we had been talking. There was plenty of laughing as he was asking me interview questions and I was answering.
We were having a good time.
One thing that I was also doing, was asking him some of the same questions he asked me as well as others that I wanted an answer to. In between the friendly back and forth, he asked me something along the lines of “Why do you want to work here?” I can’t remember my exact answer but I remember him laughing about something I said as part of my answer.
I then asked him my future boss “What about you? How long do you see yourself working here?”
He was still chuckling when he said/he gave me his response
“Man, I can’t wait to leave this fucking place.”
I don’t know who was more shocked by his response him or I. Realizing he made a mistake, he paused, sat up straight, looked at me straight in the eyes for about 5 seconds in complete silence and then said “It’s not too bad. I like how we have a diverse group of people with different skills sets.” as he looked down at his notes while he scribbled something.
Not surprisingly, I turned down the job offer. If the guy who was going to be my boss hated his job, what could I expect?
His original response told me more about the workplace environment than any generic “Tell me about your typical work day” bs interview question you can ask.
My point here is that you shouldn’t just sit there and wait to be asked questions. Manage the interview by asking questions you also want an answer to. Make sure you write down what they tell you so when you’re back home, you can go through your notes and see if working there makes sense for you.
I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to compile these questions since at least once a week I get asked by an interview coaching client if I have a list of questions they can ask during the interview. Based on popular demand, here are questions you can ask during your interview:
Can you tell me about yourself? (I like to ask this after I answered the usually first “Tell me about yourself?” question. I start off with “While preparing for the interview, I saw that you (something I found on LinkedIn). What else can you tell me about yourself?)
What attracted you about my profile/resume? (REASON: You’ll be able to find out what they like about you and go strong on those points)
Do you see yourself working here in 5 years? Why? (Interviewers usually ask you why you want to work there but they are rarely asked if they want to work there. I ALWAYS ask this question after my experience above)
Where do you see weaknesses in your team? (This is a good one to ask after they’ve asked you about your weaknesses. It’s also good for you to find out what they’re lacking and match it up with your strengths.)
What are the strengths of your team? (See above)
What do you need the most help with? (You’re trying to find out what they’re struggling with. Once you know what the problem is, you can offer them a solution in the form of you and your skills.)
What goals would you like someone in this role to accomplish in the next 3 months? (This shows that you’re ready for the challenge and that you’re already thinking of how you can contribute to the team.)
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? I ask this whenever they ask me where I see myself in X years. If they want to know what my version of the future is, it’s only fair that they tell me their version.)
What motivates you? (You want to find out why they’re doing that job and if there are any intrinsic reasons behind it.)
What do you suggest I brush up on to prepare for this job? (Similar to the goals in 3 months question above, you’re already taking ownership and showing that you’re willing to learn.)
What’s your leadership/management style? (I like to ask this to see if their style will match with my preferred style.)
Why is the position open? (Was the previous person let go, a new department, promotion, etc? This will give you an idea if people are leaving that job for a particular reason you should be wary of.)
How many of the interns go on to get a full-time offer? (This is obviously for those looking for coops and is a good question to ask if you’re trying to plan a full time offer later on. Some companies do not hire from their internship pools so knowing this could sway your decision whether to take the offer or not.)
Why should I work here? (This one is particularly powerful question to ask because it sets you at a level of someone who has something to offer as opposed to someone who is begging for something. It is very powerful if used correctly.)
You don’t have to ask these in order however I have ordered them in increasing level of boldness. Some of them make sense to ask them earlier in the interview and some of them go deeper so may be better to ask further down the interview.
For example, you probably wouldn’t ask “Why should I work here?” as your first question. It’s too much too soon. I would save it once you have a better idea of what kind of vibe you get from the other person.
And of course, the most important question you should always ask when you’re interviewing: “When do you expect to make a decision?”You want to ask this question because you want to know when you need to follow up.
This post originally appeared in PersuasiveInterview.com
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