TED talk presenter Meg Jay illustrated beautifully, in her captivating speech that went vial last week, the danger of dismissing an entire decade of your 20’s. If I may piggyback, understanding important tactics of an interviewee fresh out of college (or high school) is beneficial to fighting this. Among many things, it makes you appear more professional, qualified, wise, and able to do any job with integrity, poise, and talent. The questions you ask can easily make or break a crucial career opportunity.
We don’t want you to squander that, and you don’t either.
What would better equip you than a mental database of stellar questions to ask interviewers? Here we’ll cover 10 important questions, in sequential order of how you should ask them, with vivid descriptions behind the psychology of each. As a bonus, I’ll include a short list of questions at the very end that you should avoid like Liberian Ebola when in the interviewee chair.
Pre-interview question to ask yourself: How much do I know about this company?
- A quick Google search you can pretty much find anything you want to know about a company. Nothing screams unprepared amateur like waltzing into an interview and asking basic questions like, “What does your company do?” How enthusiastic, motivated, and intelligent will you appear when you drop knowledge about when the company was founded, it’s cornerstone ethics, and some notable successes of the past?
1. How is the culture of this workplace? What will my roles and expectations be?
- Expressing interest in knowing what’s expected of you before you get the position shows that you’re serious. It’s a display of your desire to fully understand your obligations before the first day of training. In one word: ambition.
2. Do you enjoy working here? Can you name a time when you felt extra proud to be a part of this company?
- Chances are high that if they’re in a role that involves interviewing people, both of these questions will be a resounding ‘yes.’ Everyone enjoys talking about themselves, too. If you give them permission to take the floor, you’ll not only learn valuable lessons from someone who may very well be your boss if you land the job. It’ll also relieve a lot of the tension interviewing environments evoke.
3. How does my position contribute to the goals of the company?
- A bit like #1, but different enough to note. Understanding the layout and structure of the company, as well as your personal involvement, breeds a team-first attitude. This will rub potential bosses and interviewers the right way by persuading them that you’re someone who can take direction, but knows their role and can lead when necessary.
4. What does your company consider a “success?” -or- What does your company consider “excelling?”
- No matter what job, success is what we all strive for. Knowing what that means to a given company is crucial to your daily workflow, development, and progress. This will speak well to a potential employer considering their performance is often based on how well or poorly their underlings perform.
5. Can you describe for me the ideal candidate for this role?
- This is to provide you with a “bar” per say. It gives you something to strive towards, shoot for, and a set criteria of what it takes to be accomplished in the job. Also, if you’re asking this it tells the interviewer that you wish to know the golden standard of workmanship that needs to be upheld day in and day out.
6. Does anything on my resume concern you? Do you have questions about anything you see?
- This is a bit testy because it puts them on the spot, but not in an abrasive, awkward, or strange way. Instead, it will encourage them to ask questions about you personally, which would be a good chance to point out special things on your resume that shine like amateur curling and Easy-Bake-Oven-Offs. Furthermore, this is a good chance to let your personality show, as the other 9 questions are quite professionally oriented.
7. Who will I report to? May I meet them before I start, please?
- The second part of this question is assuming you have the job locked down, but in my experience I’m not often reporting to the person who interviewed me so this is good to ask. Use this opportunity to get to know more about the people in your office. For your own sake, don’t be a suck up.
8. Can you describe for me the typical day or week in this company?
- This is as more for your benefit, but it reiterates your aspiration. It’s definitely nice to know what to expect, too.
9. Are there any other important people you recommend I reach out to?
- Assuming that you don’t have the job yet, this will show your interviewer that you have enthusiasm for the position and want to expand your further reach into the company. It’s also a valuable habit that will make networking a breeze. You’ll be surprised what happens when you ask.
10. I love challenges. Can you provide me with an example of a difficult challenge you’ve overcome in your current role?
- I put this one last, and encourage you to use it last, for a few reasons. First, it shows that you have a solid backbone and good resolve that you won’t shy away from difficult situations. Second, I have yet to meet one boss who turned down a challenge taker (Warning: I’m not recommending you force this if you despise challenges, but the job world, your dreams, and nearly everything else in your life will be full of them. No sense in running from them.) Third, it gives them the podium once more to speak their piece and share their wisdom. I can’t tell you enough how much people like talking about themselves.
As promised, here are your never mentions:
- Does the company require drug or alcohol tests?
- Will you perform a background check?
- When will I get paid and how much?
- How much vacation and sick time will I get?
- Does the company track my internet and email activity?
These may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. Arm yourself with the proper mental artillery to nail the interview, seal the opportunity, and begin a fresh chapter in your newly developing career.
Featured photo credit: Businessman / bowie15 via 123rf.com