Ace Your Job Interview by Asking This One Critical Question

“How does this role contribute to the success of the company?”

It’s a simple question. Straightforward. Non-specific. Not particularly exciting. But that’s also why this question is powerful. It addresses two key things: the position and the company’s goals.

Here are other effective variations of this question:

  • “How does this role contribute to the growth of the business?”
  • “How does this role help meet the goals of the company?”
  • “How does this role affect the business in the short-term and long-term?”

Why should you ask this question?

The types of questions you ask during the interview reveal a lot about you as a candidate. Interviewers like to hear that you are interested in the company beyond what you will gain as an employee. Asking this question will demonstrate that you care about adding value to the organization. It is the opposite of “How much paid time off will I get?” Asking this will convince the interviewer that you are engaged and you want know how you can help the company in addition to yourself.

What does the interviewer’s response tell you?

This question will help your interviewer gauge your interest, and it will help you evaluate how your values fit with the company’s. How the interviewer shapes his or her answer can tell you a lot about what the role encompasses, what the company prioritizes and what you can expect working there.

Many hiring managers will talk about how the day-to-day responsibilities will help drive company efforts on the whole. From this you can glean how you would fit into the bigger picture, how the company’s goals fit into your personal goals and what is expected of the person who fills the role. This can help you better understand what work you will need to prioritize on the job.

If the interviewer talks about future projects or business goals, then you can better understand what strategies the company is taking to grow the business. The answer will also reveal what the company is focusing on. If you find those business goals to be interesting, then you will feel more fulfilled by your work.

The interviewer’s answer should also give insight into how influential the position is. If the role requires you to manage many teams or reports, you can assume it’s a high-impact role. If it only has one specific function, perhaps it’s a low-impact role. A high-impact role may involve more pressure but more recognition. A low-impact role might have more mundane work but offer better work-life balance. Either way you can take that answer and use it to help decide whether the role is right for you.

How can you follow up after the interview?

Once you’ve determined this position is a good match and you have a strong understanding of the role, you can create a compelling follow-up email by revisiting this question. Use the interviewer’s answer to craft your follow up, focusing on the points that the interviewer brought up. If they talked about driving a product, making sales or cultivating brand awareness, share your relevant experience and skills. Confirm that you are a great fit for both the company and the role.