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Questions you should ask at interview

You’ve probably experienced that classic moment at the end of the interview where your interviewer asks you that final question:  “Do you have any questions for us?”  This can result in an uncomfortable shuffle in the chair and the standard reply, “No, I think you’ve covered everything.”  How much better would the end of your interview be if you could produce a couple of searching and conversation stimulating questions to top off your performance?   Questions which could really make the difference and leave a lasting positive impression in the mind of your interviewer.

There are very good reasons for coming up with a couple of killer questions on your part at the end of an interview.  Having reached the interview stage you have probably already been waiting and working towards this hour for some weeks.  You took the time to ensure your CV was up to date, you’ve bought a new outfit and polished your shoes.  You definitely don’t want to blow it now, and if you can engage your interviewer for just a bit longer and offer something that the next candidate doesn’t, then, you might just have this one in the bag.

Be Prepared

There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of questions written on a card which you can refer to at this point in the interview.  This shows that you have prepared well and given prior thought to their company and the role you are discussing.   Remember that one of the key things you should be trying to achieve at interview is to demonstrate how your skills, qualifications, experience and ethos match their criteria closely.  If you ask the right questions at this point, you can use those last few minutes to cement your suitability in the mind of the interviewer.

A good question will give you the opportunity to demonstrate you have done your homework, and taken the trouble to research the company and the job you are applying for.  You may have already been asked the question “What do you know about our company?” however this section of the interview gives you an extra opportunity to demonstrate your genuine interest and knowledge.   Notice how the following questions subtly introduce the fact that you do know quite a bit about their company already.  Also remember that flattery gets you everywhere, so a few subtly placed complimentary remarks about the success and growth of the company never goes amiss.

Here are a few questions you might like to ask at interview.

  • I know that there are several companies in the UK in this market, who are your main competitors?
  • I think that the branding and reputation of your company is very strong, what else do you do which gives you the edge over your competitors?
  • I can already see that the company has grown significantly over the past 2 years, are there any further plans for expansion of the company in the next 5 years?
  • This job sounds very interesting to me and seems to be a good match for my previous experience, what other teams / people will I be interacting with as part of this role?
  • Since the company bought XYZ company in 2007, I know that the profits have increased by 100%, what other benefits has this brought about?

Notice that these questions are “open questions”, inviting a full reply from your interviewer and opening up further discussion.  Avoid asking “closed questions” which invite Yes / No answers and are guaranteed to kill the conversation dead.

What you shouldn’t ask at interview

  • How much sick leave do I get?
  • Can I have time off to attend my anger management classes?
  • Can I bring my dog to work with me?  (Unless of course you are applying for a role as a shepherd, or a police sniffer dog handler, in which case it would be a definite advantage, and probably viewed as unprofessional if you didn’t bring your dog to work with you!)

Joking aside, make this important section of the interview a positive interaction, prepare for these questions and you will give yourself the best opportunity of landing your next job.

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  • Dave

    it is all very well doing your prep and polishing your shoes but what if, halfway through the interview, your interviewer lets out a very large yawn? This happened to me……didn’t get the job!

  • http://www.oilcareers.com Rowena Simpson

    Dave,

    I could be generous and suggest your interviewer had had a heavy night or been up with his newborn inducing his yawn. We will never know!

    However it probably does raise the point that if you are interested and engaged in what somebody is telling you then generally you will be more alert!

    Let us suppose that you were boring the socks off your interviewer, and your response was more effective than a lullabye. If you see your interviewer glazing over, consider if you are perhaps starting to ramble just a little. Using the STAR technique which I will discuss later on may help reduce the danger of this.

    The other defence is to throw a few open questions back at your interviewer to keep him on high alert.

    I’m going to be kind and suggest that like all of us, your interviewer probably just hadn’t had enough sleep, and he obviously missed out on the best candidate for the job!

    Rowena

  • http://dblogofdk.blogspot.com dknypg83

    great post!! thanks for the tips… and ya, as dave pointed out, maybe we shouldn’t have lengthy answers as well…

  • Gemma

    I have just had an interview today and at the end was given contact details if I suddenly remembered another question I wanted to ask. I did ask a question or two but should I email another one? or just say thanks for interview etc

    I don’t know what to do

  • http://www.oilcareers.com Rowena Simpson

    Absolutely, I will be publishing a blog post soon about the STAR technique. This framework usually applies to competency based questions, but can equally help you in formulating answers that are concise and stick to the point. This STAR technique also allows you to answer the question giving plenty of reasons for the employer to believe you are the right person for the job.

    Register for RSS feeds to the blog to make sure you don’t miss out on this one, or call back regularly.

    Rowena

  • http://www.oilcareers.com Rowena Simpson

    Gemma,

    I would definately follow up with your other question, particularly if they have given their contact details to you to use post interview.

    Just make sure that the question is yet another opportunity to demonstrate your skills and enthusiasm for the job.

    Avoid asking questions about sick pay, holidays, pay etc. Keep those for when you are offered the job and thrashing out the terms and conditions.

    Rowena

  • Jay

    Thanks for the article, a good question can be:
    “What are the most important qualifications that make a candidate fit best for this position?”
    What’s your idea?

  • http://lux-limo.co.uk/ Tom

    Excellent little article – the “Do you have any questions for us?” moment in an interview has always stumped me.

    I’ve stupidly answered no a couple of times and turned a great interview really awkward! D’oh! This article will be a great help, thanks. :)

    Tom

  • http://www.oilcareers.com Ashleigh Pirie

    I think that is one of the questions that gets most people – with plenty of practice and helpful tips you will learn to breeze through interviews!

Disclaimer: Any views here do not necessarily reflect the views of OilCareers Ltd. As such we cannot be held responsible for the views expressed here or any actions taken as a consequence.

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