When I think of the interview questions a person needs to ask, quite a few come to mind. Some of the ones I recommend are a little too risky, but there are others that you’d be wise to consider; in fact, many companies expect you to ask them.
Candidates don’t often think of this, but one of the factors an interview team uses to judge you, is by the questions you ask—and the depth, caliber, and perceptiveness of the questions makes a big difference.
In my book, No Mistakes Interviews, I go into a lot of detail about interview preparation. I believe it’s one of the most important aspects of interviewing and plays a huge role in whether a candidate is successful in winning the job offer. A candidate who is properly prepared has a huge edge over the ones who aren’t.
Keep in mind, though, I’m not talking about a quick lookup on the company’s website for ten minutes. For a professional position, the interview preparation usually takes longer than the interview itself. If you’re serious about a position, take time to prepare.
Here are a few things to dig into.
Find out what the company is about.
- What their products are.
- Where the problems are.
- What their strengths and weaknesses are in the market.
- Who their management team is, and how long they’ve been together.
- Dig into the finances.
- And find out everything you can about the team you’ll be interviewing with.
Asking the right questions is almost as important as answering the questions an interview team throws at you. As mentioned earlier, not only does the team expect you to ask questions, they judge you on the questions you ask.
Preparing Your Questions
It’s important that you don’t treat this lightly. If your questions barely scratch the surface, it will be painfully obvious. I’ve come to believe that a half-ass preparation might be worse than nothing.
It’s critical that you push hard.
- If the company’s lead product lost market share last year, dropping from 28% to 25%—ask why. And when they respond, ask what they’re doing to recover that ground.
- If the stock price has taken a nose dive, probe for the reason.
- If you’ve done a search on LinkedIn and found more than a few people have recently left the company, make sure you get an answer. A lot of people leaving is often a signal of far deeper problems.
Politicians have said that some of the toughest interview questions are asked by kids–kids seem to say whatever is on their mind. Some companies welcome those type of questions also. They want you to ask about product issues, production problems, a recall, funding, etc. The last thing a company wants is you coming into a job unprepared for the problems waiting for you.
But other companies hide from probing questions, or dodge the answers. It is precisely these companies—the ones who provide evasive responses—where it is critical to probe deeper.
Aside from “company-related” problems, there are people problems. Sometimes the people problems can be far worse than issues with products or stock or competition. There are a few questions I always recommend asking:
- Why is the job open?
- What happened to the last person?
- How does this position fit into your plans to…
- Recapture market share.
- Fix field problems.
- Reduce manufacturing costs.
No matter what issues you uncover in your research, you’ll want to know how that affects the job you’re applying for.
And if you uncover anything that looks suspicious, or makes you feel uncomfortable, take a step back.
You need to take this seriously, folks. I have seen people spend more time researching a computer purchase than they do a job interview. Even worse, I’ve seen candidates who accepted offers without digging deeper than the interview.
Think about this. If you were about to buy a new car, wouldn’t you take it for a test drive? Check it out? You would, wouldn’t you?
A prospective employer is more important than a car. If you’re not getting responses you think are right, that’s a big red flag. Don’t ignore it. Dig deeper. If you’re still not comfortable—pull the plug.
And by the way, my book, No Mistakes Resumes is on a special sale this week for only 99c! Do me a favor and go get it. It will help pay for all these blog posts I do. Oh, and it will help feed my animals, too. Here’s the link to Amazon.
And if you like mysteries, I have great one (Murder Takes Time) on sale for the same price. Hell, skip a cup of coffee and pick them both up. You can get Murder Takes Time at Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google, or Kobo.
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And if you really want to learn all the tricks of interviewing, pick up my book, No Mistakes Interviews.
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends”.