So you've made it past the initial application stage and you've been successful in gaining an interview!
What now? In our series of "How to impress at your next job interview" posts we have some advice to help you make sure you put your best foot forward and nail that interview for your dream job!!
We have discussed the preparation that you need to undertake earlier than your interview day (see post here). Then we discussed the preparation that you need to put in just prior to the interview (see post here). Last week we gave you some tips to help you during your interview (see post here) and this week’s post covers the sorts of questions you WANT to ask the interviewer!
Firstly you need to gear yourself up to ASK questions! Many people feel uncomfortable asking questions, as if they are being rude when they are forthcoming. But in fact, the vast majority of employers (well I think all employers, but I shouldn't be so absolute in case I can be proven wrong!) prefer a candidate who is well versed enough and comfortable enough to ask questions. Asking questions shows that you value yourself and value the work environment you are part of and that you have done some research into the company you will potentially be working for!
The one tip you need to ask ANY question!
No matter which of the following questions you decide to ask or not ask, the one piece of advice I would like you to take away from this post is HOW to ask questions. You can ask ANY question (just about) if you ask it nicely!! Seriously - I'm sure you've heard you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?! It is just so true. I often preface asking somewhat difficult questions with things like:
- "I hope you don't mind me asking..." or
- "Would it be ok if I asked some in-depth questions that help me to better understand the company and the role I would potentially fill?"
If your not naturally the type of person to ask questions, you might want to practice with someone trusted before your interview. But trust me!! You do want to practice, as this is a very important part of the interview that should not be overlooked!
Types of questions 1 - The Basics
So I have listed below a few types of questions you should ask, as the answers will help you make an informed decision if you are offered the role (NB: remember, just because you've got an interview doesn't mean the job is right for you - the interview is as much about you understanding if this is the best match for you, just as much as it is about the potential employer sussing you out!). In no particular order:
- Who would I report to? What is their management style (eg: hands-on, mentor-like, structured, laissez faire)?
- Who would I be working with? What is the team structure like (eg: hierarchical, goal oriented, team-focussed)?
- What are the terms and conditions of employment? (eg: is there a non-compete agreement, or legal contract to sign, how long is the probation period),
- Is training or mentoring offered?
- Is there the opportunity for advancement?
- Why has the vacancy occurred (this one is important!)
Types of questions 2 - The Indepth
These questions you might find a little more difficult to ask, but in the current economic times, they really are important as you want to be sure that you protect yourself as much as possible! (Again, any order is ok, but I have ordered them from most innocuous to the ones that are a little more personal/in-depth!):
- What is the company's reputation in the market place (do your research before you ask this one!! Check out their website and see if you can work out who their competitors are!),
- What are the major threats and opportunities for the company and the industry?
- Are there any plans to expand, downsize, relocate or make major changes?
- How secure is the company? (you may want to ask about financials, future growth plans etc), and finally
- What investments are being made in the future of the business (eg: marketing, products and/or services, growth etc)
Types of questions 3 - The MUST ASKS!
These are the questions that you would be silly to leave an interview without asking (in any order!):
- When will you be making a decision?
- Do you think I am the right person for the job?
- Are there any questions you would like to ask me?
- When would the successful applicant need to start?
I know there are many different questions above and you may not have the time or inclination to ask all of them, BUT it is critically important that you do ask SOME of them at the very least! Asking questions shows your potential employer that you are keen, that you have done some research and that you are capable of thinking outside the square. It will also give you the information you need to decide if the position and company is the right fit for you!
So get comfortable with the power of asking questions!! Practice asking, find a polite way to ask the delicate questions and DON'T be apologetic or timid, this is for your career - one of the biggest decisions of your life - you deserve to know all you can to make an informed decision!
Good luck and let us know how you go!!
PS: next week for the final post in our "How to impress at your next job interview" series, we will look at the types of questions you should be prepared to answer about yourself!