If you’re applying for a job that you lurvveeeeeee (hint: you should be, you deserve to have a job you love waking up for), you are naturally going to have lots of questions you want answering.
But which ones should you ask? Which order should you ask them? And how should you ask them so you come across as informed and interested? Which questions are even the right questions?
I hear you, it can be a mine field.
Surprised as you might be, the best questions to ask at the end of your interview are not always the questions you’ve researched on the internet.
My number #1 tip when it comes to asking questions to impress your interviewer is …
You know when you’re in a relationship and you have a problem, but you don’t want to be too direct so you say something like: “I just, um, I just want, well… I need more romance”.
Really, what does that even mean?
It’s not specific enough for the other person to know what it actually is you need. Maybe you just want more flowers in your life. And when you start saying that, you notice you actually get the flowers you want.
It’s the same with interviews. Stick with me here, it’ll come full circle I promise. 😛
If you just say: “can you tell me more about the role?” you’re probably not going to get the answer to your real question which was: “how much budget do I have control of?”
It’s better to be too specific and direct, than too vague.
Going for vague questions means you risk the chance of coming off as not having done any research of this position or of this company, it’ll seem as if you’re not that interested.
Which is obvs the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you’re trying to do.
Now, I’m not saying you have to straight out ask them: “What’s the salary and when are my holidays?”
Because coming in all guns blazing can be off-putting, (unless you’re a very highly sort after professional and they know you’re going to be hard to hire!).
It’s a balancing act …
Those are valid and important questions, maybe you have kids and need to know about childcare. Hell, you just deserve to know what your working year will look like.
Butttttttt … even though those are important questions, ask something else first. Then you can ask about those kinds of details later on when an offer is on the table.
So, how can you be specific in your questioning?
1. Ask them something which will SHOW you’ve done extensive research on them and/or this position.
For example, maybe you’re interviewing for a marketing role. And this company held an event last year to launch a new product.
You saw it on their news page on their website, and you want to know how well this type of campaign worked for them.
That’s the kind of specific detail you could bring up. Because it shows you in your best light. You can talk about all the specific details your role would know, and using all the work lingo.
Maybe they tell you it was a good event, but they didn’t manage to do X as well as they were hoping.
Here’s your chance to offer a suggestion which might solve their problem.
Tip: ask if you can offer a suggestion first, before doing so. Say something like: “If I may, can I offer a potential solution to this?”
Side Note: Don’t worry about giving away your ideas for free. Just because you might share with them how to solve their problem and they don’t end up hiring you, you have not lost anything. I repeat, you have not lost anything!
Even though it could feel that way. All you have gained is more confirmation your ideas/way of thinking is sound. So sound in fact, that a company went with what you said.
Anyway, back to the specifics. The first way to do so is to ask them something which shows you’ve done research on them.
Try to ask them something which shows you’ve done research but also shows you’ve put some thought into your question.
i.e. refrain from things like “why is the company’s logo a lion?”. Dramatic example, but basic things instantly noticeable from a 2-minute search on their website, are probably not a good question to ask.
Instead go through their whole website, opening all the tabs and writing down any questions which spring up naturally, things you want to know the answer to. These kinds of organic questions will fly a lot better.
The second way to be specific in your questioning is …
2. Ask them to expand on something they’ve said in this interview with YOU.
Asking a question based on the information they’ve shared in the interview shows them a) you were actually listening and paying attention, and b) you’re engaged, you’ve thought about what they’ve said and want to connect further.
Imagine you’re on a date (I know, back to the romance examples).
The date is likely to go a hell of a lot better if you use a follow up question to SHOW the person you were actually listening to them and are interested in what they have to say. Rather than prioritizing talking about yourself and what this new person can do for you.
The more specific you can be → the more you can get the interviewer talking → the more info you then have to use to show them how you can benefit them.
For example, maybe earlier on the interviewer said something like, “we’re a bit different here, it’s very open.”
When the time comes for questions you could circle back to this and ask: “When you said this company runs differently, what did you mean? How are you open? Like, are you guys polyamorous or something?”
Ok, obvs don’t ask the last one…
But by being very specific you open up a dialogue.
Maybe the interviewer goes on to say something like: “It’s just different here to other companies. We have weekly meetings where everyone gets together with the CEO and shares problems, solutions and ideas. You can actually bring things up for a discussion, it’s very open.”
This is gold. Because you can use this kind of info to spin to your advantage.
You could say something like: “Wow, that is very different. At my last work place I actually tried to implement something similar, so I’m excited to hear that this exists here. That’s the exact way I like to lead and work.”
By listening, taking notes of things the interviewer is saying and then asking for expansion, you have created for yourself an opportunity to paint yourself right into this company.
You’ve given the interviewer a chance to imagine what you’d be like working in this company, by using the interviewers exact wording and examples.
You’ve removed the leg work from the interviewer. Instead of them having to hear that you’re “organized” and then ask themselves: “how would this help them in this role?”.
You’ve done the mental work for them and put yourself right into the picture.
Plus, it’s just more personal because it’s more relevant. Asking the interviewer to expand on something they’ve said creates a more personal atmosphere, rather than whopping out your notepad with internet generated questions.
Although there is a place for that too, and I’ll be writing on that soon to arm you with extra arrows for your bow.
Okay, to sum up, the most important thing you need to remember when it comes to question time, is to BE SPECIFIC.
And there are two ways to be specific and impress your interviewer. The first is to get specific in your research and generate sound, intelligent questions specific to their company.
The second is to actively listen to them during the interview, and ask them to expand on something they’ve said to YOU in this interview.
There you have it. Now you can stop dreading the “question time” part of your interview and instead use it to make the interviewer love you. Any questions? You can ask me here.
Sending you success and love.