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Last Updated on June 18, 2020

8 Impressive Questions to Ask During an Interview

8 Impressive Questions to Ask During an Interview

I. Love. Job Interviews.

Call me crazy. Some people get super freaked out about job interviews. I love them, because not only are they a great way to convince companies to hire you, but they are also a great way for you to learn about them. This requires preparing for all sorts of interview questions.

In my professional career, I believe I have attended more than 75 interviews as a candidate. This includes in-person interviews at a placement exchange or on campus. I’m not counting phone interviews. But if you count those, I’m easily over 100.

Having worked in 9 different jobs in 7 different states in the past 25 years, I’ve learned a few things about the questions I need to ask in order to determine if the organization is a good fit for me. Ultimately, there is one little thing is more important than title, salary, or benefits.

It’s not whether YOU are a good fit for them…it’s if the EMPLOYER is a good fit for you. They’ve already done their initial research, and they already believe you qualify. If you are approaching the interview from a research standpoint, you now need to determine if this place of employment is one where you will thrive, grow, and make a difference.

What I’ve learned over the years is that employees come to a job interview with different needs in mind. I will always be concerned about work/life balance and opportunities for professional development. However, you might be more interested in supervision, your team, the history of the company, office culture, or the job selection process itself.

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With that in mind, here are 8 questions you can ask that cover all the bases.

1. What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?

This question is on the job itself. It really helps pull from the interviewer what they are looking for in the new hire.

“Challenges” winds up being a trigger word for “wish list,”  so when you ask the interviewer about challenges in the position, you are asking them to specify the type of employee they are seeking; but you are showing the interviewer that you are up to the task and want to push yourself to raise the bar on your performance.

2. What training programs are available to your employees?

This is a basic, simple question that could be expanded depending on the answer. Personally, this is my favorite question about training and professional development.

Whatever specific training is offered or included from the get-go will be illustrated in an answer, but the interviewer may also provide you with details on professional associations, annual conferences, or other training/development that happens in the organization.

If you have room for a follow up question, ask what conferences or seminars other professionals in this position have been able to attend.

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3. What will you expect from me during the first day, first week, and first month of employment?

I’ve always loved asking this question as a recruiter, but it will also get to the heart of what your supervisor or team leader is looking for in the early days of your tenure.

General expectations should be unveiled, as well as the spirit and attitude expected as you get to know your team and your department. Pay close attention to these expectations, especially if you are being interviewed by the person who will be your immediate supervisor.

4. What gets you most excited about this company’s future?

Here’s where you’ll get a sense of the organization’s vision, especially if you are attending a panel interview and have the benefit of several people answering this question.

This is one of my favorite questions to ask since it will give you a sense of what makes the employees happy in their work. You’ll also get a possible inside scoop on who might be somewhat unhappy at the moment as there will be a short pause before that person answers the question.

5. What are my direct report’s strengths and the team’s biggest challenges?

If you are going for a management position where you’ll be supervising a team, this is a great place to get started learning about them.

If the hiring manager is unable to share this information with you, tweak the question slightly by asking about the hiring requirements for those folks who will be part of your team. At the very least, you can get a sense of what is required for those employees who will report to you.

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6. Can you tell me about the last team (or office) event you did together?

This question will help you determine if you are going to work for a fun, progressive organization or a more conservative, traditional one.

If their last event was a store-bought cake for all the February birthdays, then you know already that there isn’t much socialization outside of the workplace….or that much creativity, for that matter.

However, if the most recent event was a team building retreat and ropes course out in the woods, then get ready for a very team-driven and close knit community at work.

7. What are the next steps in the selection process?

This may seem obvious, but not all employers have this information together during the interview, or the hiring manager may not know it.

If you are interviewing with a traditional selection committee, they should be able to outline exactly what’s going to happen next: a second level interview, checking references, and so forth. They may even let you know how soon you’ll know any updates.

But be prepared to leave the interview without this information and know that you’ll need to follow up. At least by asking it, the potential employer will know that you are still interested and want to be kept up to date.

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8. What do each of you enjoy the most about working here; and what is one thing you would change if you could?

This is my very favorite question to ask at the end of the interview. It is best utilized if you have a full panel interviewing you. This was one of the questions that really made me shine at my most recent interview, which was for the position I have now and have had for the past 6 years.

In my years of job searching and interviewing, I have found that this one question lets me know a good cross-section of the things that make employees happy, as well as the things that bother them. If I hear the same thing more than once, I mark that down.

Final Thoughts

As a candidate, you may only have the luxury of asking one question; but have these questions on hand and review them often before the interview.

Remember, the interviewing team or manager is not the only one making a decision here. You should be armed with as much data-gathering material as possible, so when you get the chance to ask, you are ready. If not, use these questions as a follow up call or email for the hiring manager.

Best of luck on your interview — you’ve got this!

More Tips for Nailing an Interview

Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kris McPeak

Educator, Author, Career Change and Work/Life Balance Guru

How to Switch Careers and Get Closer to Your Dream Job How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position 8 Impressive Questions to Ask During an Interview 6 Important Interview Questions for Employers to Ask Why Job Satisfaction Is Important If You Want to Succeed

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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