“They did not interview well”
This is often what employers say when they decide to not move forward with a candidate. But what does that mean exactly?
Being late for an interview, not presenting oneself in a professional manner, and talking negatively about an employer are just a few examples of what can sink an interview.
But truth be told, one of the top reasons why many candidates fail the interview is because of this mistake:
Failure to ask good questions. Or worse – not asking any.
Focusing on answering interview questions can backfire
A big mistake many job seekers make is focusing too much on answering questions, so when it gets to the “do you have any questions for me?” part of the interview they’re like a deer in headlights.
The inability to ask questions (or at the very least, good ones) makes the candidate look like they’re not interested in the job, not prepared, can’t handle their nerves, or worse – they’re not too savvy.
Employers want to hire people who demonstrate genuine interest, can think on their feet, and are prepared with well thought out questions that are tailored to the position, industry, and company.
This is why it’s so important to prepare your own list of questions for the job interview and ask them at the appropriate time.
The 3 types of interview questions you need to ask
You should frame your questions so that they address certain aspects of these three main categories:
The Job: Duties, responsibilities, expectations, priorities, special projects, etc. This helps you determine if the position is a “fit” with your expertise and career trajectory.
The Company: The people, leadership, and culture. This helps you determine if their values align with yours and if you could work with them.
The Next Steps: How and when you should follow up with the interviewer. You have a right to know the time line and what is involved in the hiring process, so you can prepare yourself.
Ask questions that will extract beneficial information
The best kind of questions to ask are those that are “open-ended” and that don’t elicit only a “yes” or “no” response. You need to pull out information from the interviewer.
By asking open-ended questions, the interviewer will have to provide some clues regarding their needs, challenges, and issues which you can then address during the conversation.
An open-ended question might look something like this: “What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department/this position?”
Alternatively, it might not be a question at all and look more like this: “Tell me about the day-to-day responsibilities of this position”.
Steer clear of “me” questions
While it’s your right to interview the employer, it’s important to project a “we” and not a “me” attitude.
That means, showing you are genuinely interested in partnering with the organization and adding value (“we”) as opposed to only caring about profiting from it (“me”).
Unless you are in the negotiation stage, you should avoid asking questions that relate to money, vacation, benefits, when to expect a raise/promotion, if they pay for an advanced degree, etc.
There’s nothing wrong with getting the details of the compensation model and all of the perks that go with the job, but questions relating to these things are typically left until an offer is tabled.
Research first. Question second.
It’s not good enough to ask just any questions. You have to ask the right kind of questions as opposed to just throwing out a bunch of random ones.
This starts with researching the position, industry, and company by reading through the company website, social media presence, and anywhere else you can you can find relevant and up-to-date information.
I recommend that you reach out to people who are current or past employees of the company you are interviewing with in order to gain another perspective and inside information.
7 great reasons to ask strategic questions
Asking good questions is absolutely critical and can make or break your interview success by helping you to:
#1: Address potential concerns the employer has about you by asking questions that will open up a dialogue.
#2: Create a more interesting and dynamic conversation to build a positive rapport with the interviewer.
#3: Determine if this is the place where you want to work and if there’s a “fit”.
#4: Show you’ve done your homework, especially when you reference something you found in your research (new product, current challenge, competitors, etc.)
#5: Stand out from other candidates who won’t ask good questions, if any.
#6: Showcase your knowledge and strengths by asking higher level questions and framing them in a strategic way.
#7: Collect facts you need about the hiring process by inquiring about the next steps.
Employers typically hire candidates who “interview well”
Over the years, I’ve interviewed countless individuals and the ones who impressed me the most were those who were prepared but could also think on their feet and come up with solid questions during the conversation.
In my experience, employers prefer candidates who display a genuine enthusiasm, curiosity, and interest in the position.
While employers want to hire skills, knowledge, and experience, they also want to hire potential. They are looking for candidates who display these positive qualities because it means they are more likely to be happy and productive employees who can be groomed.
If you want to “interview well”, you need to formulate and pose questions that show you are enthusiastic, curious, interested, and “groomable”. If you do that, you have a much better chance of acing the interviews and landing the job.
Here’s how to get started.
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Hi! I’m Diana.
I leverage over 10 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired.
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