Scoring an interview for a position you are excited about is something to be proud of. That means that you have identified a role that is a good fit for your background, and your resume writing skills are on point. Those are two huge accomplishments all on their own!
It takes a lot of work to prepare for an interview. You need to prepare your elevator pitch, talking points, remember your successes and good examples of your areas for improvement. You need to study the business, their mission, corporate values, achievements, and everything in between. You have to find something to wear!
Not only do you need to have this all in order for just one job interview (imagine having multiple interviews!) but you also have to juggle it around your already busy schedule at home and/or at work. It’s incredibly stressful, and one surefire way to alleviate that stress is to have a few evergreen interview questions prepared for when it’s your turn to ask the questions. So, what are the most effective questions to ask during your interview? Why do you need them? Are they really important? The answer is yes and you should take the time to understand why.
Why are these questions important?
We’ve all been there, caught off guard, stumbling for a response when the hiring manager says “what questions do you have for me?” “Um, er, eh, no you said it all.” is not an acceptable answer. Perhaps you did have questions in mind you but you got nervous and forgot them. Maybe you weren’t prepared for an interview when someone called out of the blue. Did you forget you even applied to that job? It doesn’t matter, it’s a missed opportunity and it’s noticed.
It’s important to have impactful interview questions in your back pocket at all times. Sometimes recruiters can randomly call you without scheduling an appointment and sometimes hiring managers do the same. Your resume may be on a job board like Indeed and you’re being contacted about a new position you haven’t learned about yet. Regardless of how you get to that interview, interview questions are your chance to sell yourself, answer any remaining questions you may have missed or stumbled on, and dig deep into a position you are considering.
A good question/answer scenario can reinforce a skill or offer another perspective to a previous question. They show you are committed, interested, and prepared. A thoughtful interview question can help put your candidacy over the edge to the ‘good’ side if they are on the fence. They are also a fantastic opportunity to interview the hiring manager or recruiter to make sure the job is a good fit for you. Interview questions give you a last chance to sell yourself, at the end of the interview, leaving them with positive thoughts of how well you can serve the business. Keep these super effective questions in your arsenal at all times!
Question 1: “How will you define success for the person coming into this position?”
This is a great question because it shows that you are thinking long term and want to map your success strategy from the very beginning. It gives them a chance to think about YOU in the job and how they will think about how you can solve their business challenges. It shows desire, passion, and readiness. Hopefully, a hiring manager will also give insight as to how their top performers are successful which can help you set your own expectations. I also like this question because you learn a little about the companies annual review process. It also gives you a chance to see how you can make an impact and if the role is a big enough stretch for you.
Question 2: “What are the biggest challenges your team is facing today, and how do you hope I can solve them?”
Jackpot. There you are again in their head, in the role, solving the worlds problems. This will give good insight into some of the challenges the role will offer like budget restraints, lack of resources, global policies and red tape. Perhaps there are some difficult executives they hint at. Typically the answer will provide some of this insight and the hiring manager will help better define the expectation on what support you will have to address these challenges. Spend some time thinking about the answer they share to this question. It will offer a lot of clues about the organization and how they handle difficult situations. I’d be worried if I asked this question and the hiring manager complained about how no one can get anything done because this person is terrible, that person doesn’t do their job, and everyone has a chip on their shoulder.
Question 3: “If successful in this position, what opportunities could be available in 5 years?”
This is a better question if you’re interviewing at a bigger company where internal mobility is an option. If you’re interviewing at Janet’s Jelly Bean store, my guess is the answer is ‘nowhere’. Why is this a good question to ask in your interview? Again, it shows your commitment to the business and that you plan to stick around long term. Why is that important? Because the longer that job stays open, and the more times they need to fill it, the more money it’ll cost them. According to Glassdoor, the average company in the US will spend about $4,000 to hire a new employee, taking up to 52 days to fill a position. That’s an average to hire, not including training, and time spent getting you to be productive in your role.
Question 4: “What is the biggest, or most pressing project this person will work on once hired?”
Here, regardless of what their answer is, you will provide a situation where you did it, or supported it, or were exposed to it and will offer any knowledge you can share. Hiring manager will say, “Well, Jim, I need this person to redefine our entire recruitment strategy and help keep us competitive in the market.” This is where you swoop in and say “Fantastic. In my most recent position, I launched ‘Recruitment Redefined’, an initiative to roll out a new recruitment strategy in the US that took us from a reactive, transactional team, to a proactive and strategic business partner. I implemented new tools and platforms, including a CRM which helped us elevate our pipelining and sourcing strategy as well as a new ATS that allowed for better reporting. I worked closely with our Employer Brand team on our recruitment marketing and digital advertising efforts to increase our brand awareness. Also, my favorite tool was ‘Talent Neuron’. Have you used Talent Neuron before?” This is where the hiring manager looks at you in awe and says ‘no, go on”. And you say how it’s such a great tool that helped impact your D&I agenda and cost per hire rates. Yahtzee! There you are with your magic wand solving all the problems again.
Question 5: “Do you have any other questions for me, or is there anything you would like to discuss further?”
There are two things that can happen here. Neither are bad. One of them being, you put the ball back in their court with this power move and make them reflect on the positive interview that just took place. They may not have any other questions, which is fine, they may have already made up their mind to hire you! Or, they can say something along the lines of ‘actually, can we revisit that coding project you worked on?’ I’m interested in hearing more. Here, you get another chance to dive deeper into whatever it is they want to learn more about, perhaps it’s a clarification after a fumbled answer. Either way, it’s a chance to sell yourself again and offer more detail on your experience.
There you have it. Five solid and effective questions to ask during your next interview. Remember them, rehearse them, write them down and bring them with you. You will impress anyone you ask as well as give yourself a chance to continue selling yourself and land the role.