I was talking to a friend who had just come from a job interview and was absolutely stressed and livid at himself because he could not think of questions to ask the interviewer when prompted.
He realized his silence and stammering made him seem uninterested, unprepared and possibly not even a good candidate to join a progressive company with a very public face.
An interview is designed to do three things:
- Sell yourself,
- evaluate the position in terms of what you are looking for, and
- get an idea if this is a good match, and what the next step in the process is.
It is important to prepare questions ahead of time to interject as appropriate, and especially for when you are asked the inevitable, "Do you have any questions for me?"
The questions should be appropriate to the job, the company and your needs. They should also not be already answered on the Web site, or in literature or e-mail sent to you. Questions should be open-ended (not easily answerable by a simple "yes" or "no"), and tell you something important about the job, the organizational culture and your mutual expectations.
A few simple questions might be:
- Why isn't this job being filled from within?
- What is the history of this position?
- Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?
- What are the traits and skills of people who are the most successful within the organization?
- What are your major strategic objectives for this year?
- If I were given the job, what would your priorities be for me in the first 6 months, 1 year?
- How soon do you expect to make a hiring decision?
Remember, a job interview is somewhat like dating. You want to make a good impression, you want to sell yourself. But you don't want to commit if it's not going to be a good match.
My friend is in the legal profession, but this rule of thumb applies to any job at any level.
I would welcome your questions and comments on job interviews.