January 19, 2015
Preparing for an interview can be overwhelming. You have to put your hopes and dreams into words, not to mention put together the most professional outfit you own. And then there are the interview questions; “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a tough one. So is “Why did you leave your last job?”
But when it comes to common interview questions, there’s one that everyone is sure to encounter but for which too few prepare. And it holds the secret to finishing your interview on a high note.
‘Do You Have Any Questions for Me?’ Is the Ultimate Opportunity Question
Some candidates think they’re doing the interviewer a favor when they say that they don’t have questions. After all, isn’t asking that question a signal that the interview is over? And might not the interviewer have something more important on the schedule for the next hour?
But this is simply not the case. This question doesn’t signal that the interview is over. This question signals that the interviewer doesn’t have any more questions. It’s a perfect opportunity to take control of the conversation and show off the analytical insight you can bring to the job.
Answer This Question in Three Simple Steps
Answering this question properly requires a two-pronged approach. You’ll want to prepare two to three questions in advance of your interview and also stay engaged throughout the interview in order to brainstorm an extra question while paying attention to see if your prepared questions were answered. Your goal is to add no more than 5-10 minutes of talking. More and you might overstep the time budgeted for the interview. Less and you may not appear to be invested in the conversation. Follow these three steps:
1. Ask one analytical or big picture question.
Start your questions by connecting with the interviewer’s goals. This is where great questions such as “How does this role contribute to the success of the company?” and “What is the single most important priority for this position to achieve in the next six months?” come into play.
When you ask a big picture question at your interview, be sure to modify it to relate to the specifics of your field. For example, if you’re interviewing for a position as a teacher, your big picture question might relate to the school’s standardized testing scores. Research the scores before the meeting. If the scores are low, politely ask the interviewing principal’s opinion on the score and what strategies the school is using to raise them. If the scores are high, ask to what the principal credits the school’s ongoing success.
2. Make one question personal or intimate.
No, we’re not recommending you ask the interviewer about his most recent date. Appropriate personal or intimate questions can help you establish a common ground for a relationship. Questions such as “What makes the best employee on your team right now the best employee?” and “Which company achievement are you most proud of?” give your interviewer an opportunity to express a personal opinion or reaction. In turn, this allows you to connect with the team and workplace on a more personal level than the quantities and qualities on your resume.
3. Improvise one question based on the interview.
Remember when we said that you’ll need to stay engaged throughout the interview? This is where your attention pays off. Show the interviewer that you can think on your feet by generating at least one question based on a unique topic from the interview.
For example, the interviewer may go into more detail about the responsibilities and duties of the position that were not included in the online job description. Keep an eye out for questions you can ask about how others have performed in this role or what kinds of experiences they hope the newest hire will have had in order to succeed in this new position.
Are you ready for your big interview? Remember that the final question is just as important as the first one. Go into it prepared with pre-brainstormed questions and an engaging attitude.