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The Best Questions to Ask in an Interview to Leave a Remarkable Impression

The Best Questions to Ask in an Interview to Leave a Remarkable Impression

You’ve finally got through to the end of the interview and your potential employer asks you the most common question – “Do you have any questions?”

Many people don’t think of this as an important question, and actually the most common reply is “no.”

Perhaps you had some basic questions in your mind but felt they were already covered during the interview?

Perhaps you didn’t think of any at all because surely an interview is more about what you’re saying than what your potential employer is saying?

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If this is the case, then you may be hindering your chances of getting the job more than you realize.

Why This Simple Question Can Be Hard to Answer

If you’re particularly nervous in interviews, whether or not you felt you performed well, your mind can start to feel relief at the end of an interview and start to get into a relaxed state.

The problem here is that we believe the “do you have any questions?” is the moment where the interview is over, but in fact you’re still essentially being tested by the interviewer. They want to gauge your interest in them, the role, or the company. If you’re unprepared with interesting or information-seeking questions, you may come across as disinterested and unenthusiastic for the job.

The other problem is if we did prepare questions, but they were already answered in the interview process. It can be hard to search for new questions on the spot, and we can end up not being able to think of any.

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How Asking Questions Can Prove You’re the Best Fit for the Job

Enthusiasm, interest, and a good, two-way flowing conversation are all excellent ways to come across well when meeting with a potential recruiter. While the bulk of the interview is to shine a good light on yourself and your abilities for the role, asking questions really shows your potential employer your knowledge, awareness of the role, and that you prepared fully for the interview.

It essentially shows you’re serious about the job and if you’ve done your research on the company and its values, it can be an opportunity to further show your knowledge about them and how they operate.

But it’s not all about the recruiter, it’s also a chance for you to see if they’re a good fit for your work values, career progression, and work lifestyle.

What Types of Questions Should I Ask?

Preparation is key. It’s important to have at least two potential smart questions that can demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job. The best ones incorporate your interest in the employer while also eliciting essential information for yourself and whether the job is a good fit for you. In other words, your questions are focused and open-ended.

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Questions to Find out About the Company

This is an opportunity to show off your knowledge of the company, but also to see if it’s somewhere that will benefit you and your career path.

  • I read the company focuses on the importance of community and runs a volunteer scheme for its employees. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
  • Could you tell me a bit more about the culture of the company?
  • How does the company invest in its employees in terms of training?
  • How does this company define and measure success?

Questions to Find out About the Role

Show more enthusiasm for the role by asking additional questions. Remember, you can pick up on something the recruiter mentioned when describing the role and ask to elaborate on it, or you can think about your future in this role and how it can help you grow.

  • Can you tell me how you can potentially see this role progressing?
  • What are your expectations for this role for the next month, three months, or year?
  • Can you tell me what a typical day would be in this role?
  • What are biggest challenges of this job?
  • Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Asking the interviewer for their personal view on their role in the company and how it works for them is a good indicator for a typical work life at this company, and perhaps the team you’ll work in.

  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • How long have you been with the company?
  • Is there anything you would improve in terms of working here?
  • What are the dynamics of the team like?

Questions to Further Clarify Your Suitability for The Role

If you feel you have more to say about yourself that could help you get the job, or you’d like to clarify something about your work history, then now can be a good time to present the information. Try not to force information if it hasn’t been asked for – this is a way for you to come across as being open. However, over-explaining a discrepancy that hasn’t been asked about will probably cause problems for yourself.

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  • What can I clarify for you about my qualifications?
  • Do you have any reservations about my qualifications?
  • Are there any other questions I can answer for you?

Questions to Find out Logistics

There will most likely be questions to do with the next steps in the process that you would like answered. It’s good to think of a few because you don’t want to leave the interview wondering what is happening next. It’s best to ask these right at the end.

  • What is the next step in the hiring process?
  • When can I expect to hear back about the job?
  • When is the anticipated starting date for this position?
  • If I think of any more questions who can I contact?

Remember: Don’t ask questions about salary, benefits, taking off holiday, or whether you got the job. These will be discussed after the interview.

So, remember to have a few questions under your belt. Continue the mindset that this is still a crucial part of the interview, and you’re showing off your enthusiasm and interest in both them and the role. However, it’s also for your benefit, and having good information-seeking questions can help you know if the job fits you. Good luck!

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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