Whether you’re looking for an internship, about to graduate college, or have been in the working world for years, interviews can be intimidating.
Some of the thoughts running through your head likely include: What questions should I ask? What questions should I avoid? What’s the right number of questions to ask?
First, a few pieces of advice.
- ALWAYS ask questions. It may be your umpteenth interview, and you may have asked all of your questions to previous team members. Ask again. You may get a different answer or gain additional insight. If you don’t ask any questions, it shows disinterest, and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the interview. We’re taught to hold our questions until the end. Don’t lean on that advice here. Have a natural conversation with the individual interviewing you and ask some of your questions as they arise.
- At the end of the interview, if you’re asked if you have “Anything else?”, say yes. If you’ve asked all your questions, your natural response will be to say, “No. Thank you so much for your time.” Instead, use that question as one last opportunity to reiterate your interest in the role and why you’re the right candidate. It’s one of our golden rules for media relations, but it works just as well in a job interview.
- There’s no magic number for how many questions to ask … but ask at least three.
Now, what questions should you ask? Our team at E&V put together some of our favorite questions that we’ve been asked by job applicants. Use these as inspiration and tailor your questions to your particular job opportunity.
Demonstrate you’ve done your research.
- I read your case study on XYZ project. Was it difficult to get the client to commit to such a daring initiative?
- Who won the hot dog eating contest? (This came from a recent E&V applicant who clearly had looked at our social assets and was therefore tuned into what was happening in our workplace.)
Demonstrate your desire to make this a long-term job.
- What opportunities are there for professional development (internally/externally)?
- What leadership opportunities are there for junior staff members like me?
- How does [COMPANY] promote a positive, collaborative culture?
- What do you think [COMPANY]’s greatest competitive advantage is in our market? (Be prepared with your own great answer if the interviewer turns it around and asks for your perspective.)
Force the interviewer to subconsciously imagine you in the role.
- What projects/clients would you imagine would be the best fit for my skills and expertise?
- If I were to be hired, what metrics would you use to determine if I’m successful after 3/6/12 months?
- What does a successful employee bring to the table, in your opinion?
Demonstrate you’re interested in the individual as well as the company.
- I saw on LinkedIn you started out at [a former company or organization]. Why did you make the transition to [this company or organization]? Was the transition challenging?
- What drew you to [COMPANY]?
Ask questions that give you an opportunity to make your case.
- Thinking about the job description and my background, do you have questions about my experience, or is there anything you’d like me to elaborate on?
- What are the most important skills the [POSITION] will need to be successful here at [COMPANY]?
Do your research. Prepare. Be confident.
And stay tuned. We’ll be following up with a second post with questions NOT to ask.