Tuesday, June 18, 2024

5 Smart Questions To Ask in an Interview: Hiring Season

Do you have any questions?

We’ve all heard this before during an interview.

A hiring manager has gone through all of their core questions and is reaching toward the end of their interview process. And this is where successful candidates can differentiate themselves from the rest.

January and February are two of the best months to look for a long-term job, so now that it’s hiring season, the time to solidify your interview skills is now.

Asking questions during your job interview is critical for making a positive first impression. Before we delve into our five smart questions to ask in an interview, let’s understand why they hold importance.

Why Ask Questions in a Job Interview?

Let’s reverse the roles and envision the interview from the hiring manager’s perspective. The manager has asked an array of questions to develop a better understanding of your skills, personality, and teamwork capabilities.

And when it comes to your turn, there’s nothing you have to ask.

Knowing what is written on your job description and having a look at the company’s website isn’t a comprehensive breakdown of what’s to come if you’re offered the role. The manager is likely to assume one of two things:

  • Unexperienced – any experienced employee will have multiple questions about team culture, professional development, the company’s future and several other factors before they consider the job offer. From this, a manager will assume you’re new and simply trying to get a foot into the door, or you are too nervous to ask anything. Candidates often don’t want to come across as annoying by asking too many questions, but there is nothing wrong with it.

  • Don’t care – you aren’t interested in the longevity of your career at this company or care about what the typical day may look like. Many people aren’t ambitious about their careers and only work for financial reasons, and there is nothing wrong with that. But the person interviewing you wants an ambitious individual who cares about their personal and company’s success.

Naturally, some questions are better than others, and interviewers will quickly pick up on the genuineness of your questions. Up to 32% of hiring managers reported that asking poor questions in an interview is a detrimental mistake.

Asking a bad question is worse than asking none at all.

Avoid these questions:

  • Something easily found on Google.

  • How quickly can I get promoted?

  • Do you do background checks?

  • Do you have any other positions than this job?

  • What is my salary? (this should be discussed when you are given a job offer).

  • How many warnings do you get before getting fired?

The list goes on, but let’s move on to five questions you should definitely consider! Take note of the order of the questions.

Question #1: Setting Expectations

Successful employees understand what they are getting themselves into.

What will I need to do in the first 6-12 months to be considered a great hire?

Asking this question right off the bat establishes expectations, and you can shape the rest of your responses based on their answer.

By asking about expectations for the first 6-12 months, you showcase your commitment to making a meaningful impact from the very beginning. This demonstrates to the interviewer that you are forward-thinking and proactive in planning your contributions.

It also ensures that both parties have a clear understanding of the key performance indicators and goals for success in the position, promoting transparency and preventing potential misunderstandings.

You also separate yourself from the pack with this question.

Most candidates enquire about what the company can offer them, whether in the form of professional development opportunities or company culture. This question highlights your equal concern about personal and company success.

Question #2: Showing Intention

The first question has already established you as a different candidate from the rest and given information on short-term and long-term success.

What's the main challenge for this team right now?

This question shows that you are genuinely interested in the current dynamics of the team. It reflects your curiosity about the real-time challenges the team is facing, showcasing your commitment to understanding the immediate context of the role.

It can also increase your success rate in an interview.

If the interviewer provides a detailed response, you can tailor how your skills can solve those challenges.

You also set the stage for a constructive dialogue about the team’s dynamics, providing an opportunity for you to discuss how your skills and experiences can contribute to overcoming challenges and driving positive outcomes.

Question #3: A Cultural Fit

This one is a tricky question to traverse and is often a diplomatic play.

How would you describe the team and corporate culture in this company?

No hiring manager will respond to this question negatively or disclose information about potential gossipy behaviours of employees.

A standard response entails how all employees get their work done but don’t take themselves seriously, everyone gets along and celebrates their wins together, etc. So why ask this question?

We have opened with two productive and work-focused questions, but we need a balance of personality to ensure you don’t come off too strong. It shows a willingness to be part of a team and the desire to get along with colleagues to foster a collaborative yet friendly environment.

And on the odd occasion when the hiring manager does provide a unique response, you have gained valuable insights!

Question #4: Learning About Success

Understanding how the manager identifies success and if they do at all, is a more accurate method for gauging team culture.

Can you share a recent success story or notable achievement from someone in your team?

The response to this question can offer valuable insights into how the team collaborates and achieves success. It allows you to gauge the level of collaboration, innovation, and recognition within the team or department.

You also begin to understand what is considered valuable within the team and the measures needed to accomplish something. If the interviewer is unable to give one example, then take it as an opportunity to dodge a bullet and thank yourself.

Other than a glimpse of expectations, this question leads to a positive discussion and is your chance to gauge how enthusiastically the manager speaks about their team.

Question #5: Gauging Safety

Not many candidates consider this question, but the answer can have a significant impact on your interest in the role.

Why is this role open?

This is a strategic move on the interviewee’s part that can reveal a reason for the vacancy. It gives you insights into the turnover rate within the company. Understanding whether the role is open due to growth, internal promotions, or other factors can provide information about the organisation’s stability and employee satisfaction.

If there were challenges in the role that led to the vacancy, asking this question allows the employer to address any potential concerns proactively. It shows that you are considering the potential challenges and are willing to understand and tackle them.

Remember, while these are some smart questions to ask in an interview, you should always be adaptable and adjust questions based on your interactions.

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