When what you ask says more than what you say

February 9, 2016

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    A former colleague of mine once told me how he had conducted an interview with a very senior executive that was rather non-traditional. Instead of initially asking the candidate about their credentials or experiences, he asked “So what questions do you have for me?”.

     

    This situation is not your typical interview but it illustrates a very important point, and one that I have been conveying for many years – that the questions you ask your interviewer have a greater impact on your interview than you may have previously thought.

     

    Going to an interview is similar to attending a business meeting – you are pitching a product – yourself (see “Is an interview B2B or B2C?”). For this reason, candidates usually invest their time in fine tuning how they present themselves and their unique selling points.

     

    But what about question time? From my experience and those of my colleagues, candidates give little thought to the questions they ask in their interviews. Questions seem more like an after thought rather than part of a well prepped interview. And yet, the questions you ask can make or break your interview in seconds!

     

    So here are a few tips for your next interview:

    1. Always have them written down!
    2. You should have a list of no less than 20 questions – Why? Because I can guarantee you that at least 70% of these will be  covered during an interview and this way you will have a few spare up your sleeve.
    3. These questions should be grouped by concept (i.e. team structure, the job, training etc.) rather than being in a random order.
    4. The more senior the role, the more you need to demonstrate your thinking so consider asking questions that are much broader but have an impact on your potential area/role.
    5. Consider how you will ask your questions: you should practise how you will phrase the questions as sometimes these can come across badly or in other cases may require some introduction rather than simply asking the question outright.
    6. When writing your list, ask yourself:
      • Do I really need to ask this question – if the answer is no then don’t ask it
      • Is this a question for a first interview or a potential second interview

     

    For a one-off free review of your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile, or information on job search strategy development and interview skills training please contact us. 

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