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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

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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