As an executive and career coach, I have the opportunity to regularly support leaders in preparing for the interview process. Having been a hiring manager myself for many years, one of the biggest opportunities that I see many candidates miss is the nature of questions that they ask the employer during the process. I can tell you from personal experience that, often, the candidates who distinguish themselves the most do so not simply by the answers they provide, but also by the questions they ask.
The questions that you, as a candidate, ask are powerful indicators to the employer on the level of research you’ve done on the industry, organization and role. In addition, it indicates your level of intellectual curiosity, areas of passion and ways you may lead within the organization. Most importantly, it helps you, as a candidate, determine the level of fit for you relative to the role, organization and culture.
As you may only have a few minutes at the end of an interview to ask a few questions, use your time wisely! Here are 5 “do’s and don’ts” to leveraging powerful questions during your interview.
- Don’t: say “nope, I’m good” when asked if you have any questions by the interviewer. (Yes, I’ve actually received this response as a hiring manager.) This is a strategic opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates as well as learn more about the organization.
- Don’t: ask “housekeeping” type questions that could be answered in other forums, such as via email with HR or the external recruiter. Examples of housekeeping questions might include, “will I get a company credit card in this role?” or “how long do I need to be here before I get an extra week of vacation?”
- Do: ask questions that demonstrate your due diligence on the industry and company. An example might be, “I’ve read that one of the biggest trends in your industry is X. How is your firm addressing it?”
- Do: ask questions that indicate your desire to learn more about the role itself. An example might include, “what would success look like for a candidate in this role after 6 months? 1 year?”
- Do: ask questions related to the organization’s culture and your potential fit. An example might be, “what is the best aspect of your firm’s culture? If you could, what one aspect would you change or improve?”
Keep the above suggestions in mind for your next interview and remember, “a question not asked is a door not opened” (Marilee Adams).
Stephen Kohler, MBA, PCC, CPCC, BSP
Executive Leadership Coach