‘Do you have any questions for me?’ It’s a familiar phrase, and one likely to terrorise any candidate walking into an interview completely unprepared. No matter how many resources there are available to candidates, this portion of the interview process still traps a few. Some candidates think you’re better off just saying ‘no.’ Why take the risk? And that’s they’re prerogative. But in doing so they’re inadvertently dismissing a valuable chance to stand out from the crowd; to demonstrate serious research and serious ambition. I say if you get the chance, take it and with a few pointers you can guarantee yourself a second interview.
Preparation, quite obviously, is key here, but it’s not everything. This is any easy chance to demonstrate your attentiveness and active listening. Use the moment to clarify any misunderstandings or questions left unanswered throughout the interview. More importantly, if you have any questions about the product, providing they’re not too obvious, then now’s the time to ask them. When it comes to second-round, competency-based interviews you’ll be thankful you took the time to ask relevant questions now.
If you’re wanting to go that extra mile, take a notepad and pen into the interview. Don’t, however, write down typical details: renumeration, information about the product, follow-up questions etc. Rather take notes about where you can add-value, what you can improve, where you can help. The interviewer is likely to notice this, particularly what’s being written down and it will impress. As you build rapport with your interviewer, take this one step further, build upon what they’re saying. If they’re listing categories of prospective clients, suggest another group, then segue into the fact you already possess an extensive network in regards to that field.
But don’t keep the focus on where you can improve things solely on the product, elaborate on the subject by introducing the entire company into the conversation. A simple question to ask is: ‘what is something this company is still working on getting right?’ Immediately you can explicitly address where you can help the company. And more importantly, it demonstrates to the interviewer that you’re willing to work with this company warts and all, that you’re willing to work in the long and short term to address critical problems the company is going through.
Whilst we’re on the subject of correcting mistakes, perhaps even ask how your soon-to-be employer delivers negative feedback. All jobs have a learning curve, but how your employer handles the resulting errors is crucial to fostering a positive work environment. Whilst this may seem like an obvious choice, some recruiters still view this as an implicit admission that you’re unconfident about your ability to perform in the role. It’s subjective either way. Gauge your audience, then either drop the question or pose it.
Finally, whilst there are some questions that perhaps should or shouldn’t be asked, there are certainly questions that should never be. I can guarantee you, these questions are still being asked. Even innocuous questions can scupper your chances, questions like: ‘what are you working hours?’ The subtext is clear: ‘will I have to work hard?’ You already know the answer to that question, so why jeopardise your chances? Questions are everything in an interview, but arm yourself with the right ones and you will be set to succeed.