“So do you have any questions for me?”
You hear the question. Your brain freezes. Yeah you have questions about salary, vacation time and benefits. But you know this isn’t what the employer wants to hear. They’ve just thrown the ball in your court. What do you do?
Properly asking questions in interviews can be tough. especially if you’ve spent most of the interview doing your best to give full answers to their questions. As hard as it is, if you can master asking questions in interviews, you’ll be the one directing the interview.
Why is asking questions important?
If there’s one thing that impresses employers, it’s an employee that knows their stuff. Asking solid questions in interviews is a basic technique to used to show your worth. You want to take the qualities that employers are looking for (resourcefulness, technical skills, dedication, for example) and ask questions that show you embody these qualities.
When the employer gives you the opportunity to ask questions, you’re being given control of where the interview will now go. It’s up to you to direct the interview to a place where you can elaborate on your skills and gets the employer to further inquire about them. If you can influence the line of questioning in a interview you can put yourself at an advantage.
Questions are also important because they can show employers your dedication and commitment. Preparing concrete interview questions beforehand shows dedication since you’re not guaranteed the job even if you do spend the time preparing. Employers are looking for people with this drive to succeed. The is the bare minimum employers expect from potential employees.
It’s easy to say the right things during an interview, but candidates that can showcase their skills are able to stand out. Asking questions is the most important part of selling your skill set to a potential employer.
Here are some rules and tips to follow when creating your interview questions.
1. Stay away from basic questions
It’s important not to ask just any question during an interview. Its better to ask one in depth, concrete question than two flimsy ones. Questions about what to expect on the job or what your day might look like aren’t indicative of an exceptional employee. In order to come up with impressive questions you need to do research.
2. Be extremely specific with your questions
Ask questions specific to your industry based on things that you have noticed. For example, if you are applying for a position as a secretary, ask how the company plans to use technology to increase productivity and use this questions as a segue in to telling them about your efficiency and technical skills as a secretary.
If you notice specific things a company is trying to achieve, show how you can contribute to their company meeting its goals. Always be looking to show how you can help them outside of your normal duties.
3. When coming up with questions, ask yourself these two things:
First, what quality do you want to show off with this question? Are you trying to show a specific skill, a personality trait, or an industry related idea? This question should be based on research that you’ve done about what the employer is looking for.
Second, what experience do you have personally that proves this? Think of a time you put this thing in practice. Draw from your practical experiences, from work, and volunteer positions. Incorporate this example into your question.
4. Take the time to properly word your question
The way you phrase your questions is also important. Use action words in key places to show that you’ve done your homework. After sharing what you noticed from your homework, tie it in with your skills. Your questions should start off like this:
I was reading *insert industry related magazine, website, study, book ect*
You mentioned that * insert quality, task or necessity that interviewer mentioned*
While watching * insert industry related tv show, webinar, seminar ect*
I noticed that * insert industry trend, something related companies are doing ect*
Use variations of the following lines to finish your questions:
Is there any opportunity for ___ here?
I noticed ____ is important to your company. What skills are you looking for to achieve this? Follow up with your skills that fit this quality.
Use the above to come up with at least 3 solid questions. You’ll walk in the interview ready to take anyone out. When in doubt, just ask one of your questions. If done properly, you’ll have a concrete question that show off qualities in you that employers desire.
Featured photo credit: Businessman reading company report via shutterstock.com