The How and Why of Questioning Your Interviewer

Anyone and everyone will instruct you to always be prepared to answer job interview questions in a dynamic and energetic way.  We all know that it isn’t just what you say at an inteview but also how you say it that can get you the prize.  It’s the level of engagement, robustness so to speak that you display during the interview that will can give your inquisitors a positive picture of yourself.  But even with all these positives going for you, if you don’t come prepared with insightful questions – the whole profound experience can be for naught.

In any selling interaction, and don’t fool yourself – a job interview is a sale, you must always end with what professionals call “the close.”  We have talked in the past about starting the job inteview with your elevator speech and how important it is to get going in a positive atmosphere.  Well, it is just important to finish the interview with a bang and that bang cannot be achieved unless you ask for the sale – the close.

Obviously the close is more than asking for the sale.  The close is the wrap-up, the bottom-line, the rationale for giving me the job.  However there are many different ways of closing and one of the most important means to that end is to be prepared to ask the right questions when the interviewer inevitably will say, “Do you have any questions?”

The questions for the questioner provides you the opportunity to show off what you know about the company.  Since you prepared for the interview by researching your possible new home and going to Guidestar to determine if they could afford you, the questions you ask can be just the added ingredient to impress.

First of all, most experts will tell you that you must limit your questions to 2, 3 – if you must.  Secondly there are questions you should never ask:

What is the salary?  Compensation should never be initiated by the interviewee.  Dollars should never be discussed until the offer is made.  Why?  Because if they like you they now must find the right amount to entice you to” sign on the dotted line.”  I have only turned down a job once because of salary.  The association wanted me but just couldn’t find the budget to make it happen.  Though it was disappointing, it was a great experience and you never know how if this company will pass your name on to others in the future.  Again my credo, never burn any bridges even if the immediate response is for total annihilation.

Do I Need to Work on Weekends (travel, overtime, first vacation)?  The last thing a potential employer wants to hear from you are your boundaries or limitations.  Sure you have a family, sure you have other demands placed upon you, who doesn’t,  but to initiate limitations at this time is downright suicidal.  Remember, during the romancing stage, which the interview is, you are open to anything.

In true “close” fashion the questions you ask must be insightful and an example of how you are going to be on the job.  Ford Myers, president of Career Potential LLC and author of “Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring” states that “the interview should be a peer level, 50-50 dialogue, not an interrogation and (by asking questions it) also demonstrates that you’re fully educated about the company and the opportunity – and that you’re totally prepared and engaged.”

The following are some questions that will display your interest in the job while also presenting you as something more than a superficial candidate for the position:

Please explain you corporate culture?  Every company is different so it is important to ascertain how the interviewer pictures the  corporate environment.  This question can show your interest on how things come to fruition at this company and can also reassure you or frankly, turn you off.  An answer to this question can help you determine how decisions are made and to what degree you can partake in those deliberations.

*  What would be your ideal expectations of the person you hire for the first 6 months on the job?  By asking this question you are showing the company that you are driven, you are goal oriented and that mutually anticipated achievements are expected of you.  This question also shows the questioner that you want to provide results early and often and that you can indeed be productive right from the start.

*  What are the next steps?  You can use this question to emphasize that you are extremely interested in this position, you are ready to start yesterday and that the company will never be in better hands than when you are allowed to show off your talents.  This will also provide you the opportunity to close with a bang.  Besides the information provided you about the job starting in 2 weeks or 2 months, the question can also position you as an individual who wants the job and will certainly not let the company think twice about your selection.

The close is a very important element of the interview.  It will be the lasting impression of your talents.  Make sure the interviewer leaves the room wanting more. Preparation is vital but above all you need to flow with the process.  Depending on how the interview proceeds it may become quite obvious what questions you may want to ask. 

The best interview is one that is over before you even know that the hour has passed.  The best interview is one that is conversational and free-flowing and doesn’t seem forced.  Though the other person is asking the questions, remember you are in charge.  You can determine the outcome of the interview and you can take the interview down a road that is beneficial to you.  Obviously an interview can be nerve racking but it behooves you to make it interesting and memorable.


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