Regardless of where you are in the world or what role you’re applying for, one question is asked in every single interview. For some it brings panic; others welcome it as an opportunity to shine:
“Do you have any questions for me?”
Usually, at the end of an interview, candidates are provided with the opportunity to switch roles and ask the questions. As competition for jobs remains fierce, interviewers increasingly use this section of the interview to test for a logical approach, organizational skills, assertiveness and quick thinking. They’re also checking listening skills, that you’ve done your research and how you frame your questions
This is your chance to stand out from the crowd, so be sure not to blow it by saying you don’t have any, or asking about something that’s on their website or that’s already been discussed.
And from a candidate perspective, this question provides you with the perfect opportunity to get under the skin of the business, its culture and values. So when the tables are turned, you enter the most critical part of the interview – your chance to find out if you really want to work for them. (Click here to tweet this.)
Being able to answer confidently and ask your questions (as many as there are time for; probably three or four) requires planning and preparation. Here are my top tips to ensure you have the interviewer sitting up in his or her seat and taking notice:
1. Know your message
Your first question should be used to make an impact, impressing the interviewer; this is the perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd. You therefore want to consider what your questions say about you as a candidate. Here are some examples:
- To express confidence and your ability to accept feedback: “What do you believe could hold me back from securing this role?” (This also gives you an opportunity to counter any objections.)
- To demonstrate that you’re goal-focused: “If I had to accomplish one key outcome in the role in the first three months for you, what would it be?
- To show your ambition: “What makes someone successful here?”
2. Know your values
Your second question will help you to understand know whether it’s a business you really want to work for, so your mission is to find out whether company culture and values are aligned with your own personal beliefs.
Based on our experience, one of the core reasons for career unhappiness is mismatch with what the company stands for and how it does things. To counter, you must understand your personal values. Use my free eValues tool to help you identify your core beliefs — the things you must experience through work to remain enthused and able to progress.
This information is your secret weapon. When you ask “How would you describe your values and/or the culture here?” you want to listen for similarities to your own values. For example, if your number-one value is collaboration, statements such as “team-work,” “encouraged to share ideas,” and “working with people, not for people” will demonstrate a possible fit for you within that organization.
You can also use your core values prior to the interview. Is the job posting written in a language and using words that speak to your core beliefs? Does the website share the company values, and if so, are they similar to your own? When you walk into the office, does it feel like the values are being lived and breathed?
No matter how great the role, if your values are not aligned then the honeymoon period will be just that.
3. Know your stuff
Your response to “Have you got any questions?” has two aims: get under the skin of the business and, if you like what you find, impress the interviewer in an effort to secure the role. Therefore your key to answering and presenting yourself in the most appropriate manner is research.
Show you’ve done your research about the business. “I loved the work you did for ABC Company, it really seems to have helped them to achieve XYZ. Would there be opportunities to work on a project like that once I’ve proved myself here?”
And not just on the company, but also the interviewer. You want to build a rapport, so use social media to gain a vast array of information about the person – likes, dislikes, career history, current role, etc. If you can find one thing to connect you, you’ll have a greater level of engagement.
You can also use this information to form your questions. For example, “I notice you’ve been with this business 15 years. Why have you stayed?” Be careful not to overdo it, though – stalker syndrome is an interviewer’s turn-off.
Be prepared to respond to counter-questions. If you ask about competitors, make sure you’ve done the background on them to prepare for the obvious “What do you believe makes us stand out from the competition?” follow-up.
Also be prepared to ask questions spontaneously. For instance, refer to something that’s arisen from the conversation so far, showing your depth and breadth of thinking. And be prepared to abandon the questions you prepared if the information has already been covered.
Preparation is the key to success. However it doesn’t have to be detailed nor involve hours of work. Use the information readily available online, speak to people in your network and, if you can, visit the business before interview. Filling your armory, preparing your questions and making sure you take them with you will provide you with a greater chance of finding a job you’ll love. Good luck!
How do you prepare for this part of the interview? Share your thoughts in the comments!