What Questions Should I Ask at My Job Interview?

One of the most frustrating things about a job interview is that you have no control over which questions you’ll get asked; you had some killer answers to the really difficult ones, and they didn’t even ask you half of them! Angry Emoji! But hey, it’s ok, because you get to ask them questions too! Yay!

Why That’s Actually A Good Thing

OK, I’m sensing that you’re not sharing my enthusiasm. I’m getting the distinct feeling that, like many, many people, that’s causing you as much stress as the part where they grill you. Well, it shouldn’t. This is the bit of the interview in which you have the most control and, if you internalise what an interview is really for, you will be able to ask some amazing questions that score you some nice, easy points. You won’t even need any guidance as to what those questions should be (but I’ll give you some anyway, because hey, why not?).

I have a question! Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

So what is a job interview really for? Well, many people forget this. There seems to be a general feeling that interviewing for a job is a dark art, involving all sorts of professional rituals and codes, and this can lead to a very fuzzy sort of thinking, a kind of total disorientation in which nothing makes sense anymore. A job interview is, as another professional in my field recently described with distinctive candour, ‘a chance to prove you can get the job done and you’re not a total knob.’ And that really is it.

To not be a total knob, you have to know how to display confidence without arrogance and show that you can really listen. There are other aspects to it as well, and I’ll cover those in the near future. For now, let’s concentrate on asking questions that demonstrate you’d be good at the job.

Try This Simple but Powerful Exercise

So, let’s do an exercise to help you internalise the ideas you need to crush this part of the interview. You’ll need a piece of paper and a pen. Try, for a moment, to forget all the professional rituals, the rules, the protocols, and imagine your ideal job without all that bullshit. The important thing to remember is that you’re really good at this job. You know you are because you’ve been invited for an interview.

The first thing you need to think about is this: when you’re doing this job, what is the ultimate objective, in very simple terms? If you’re in sales, this is easy: sell more widgets; in accounts, you have to make sure all the financial transactions are recorded and reported correctly. Whatever your new job is, distill everything down to a few words that describe why that job exists. So:

1. What is the objective of my new job?

Next, you need to imagine doing that job. You’re really good at it, remember, but there are always challenges. Based on experience and a little imagination if need be, describe what those challenges might be. Keeping the sales example going, I’m going to imagine that distinguishing my widget from those of our competitors might be tricky. But for your job?

2. What is my biggest challenge in this job?

Great, so a picture of you doing this job day in, day out is starting to emerge. Now, what does it look like when you’re having a really good day? For my sales example, again it’s nice and simple: I’m making lots of sales! What about in your job?

3. In my new job, what does a good day look like?

Once you’ve got all these answers, you have a nice framework to help you imagine the whole job. Just to make sure you’re on the right lines, look at the company website and check that the image you have in your mind seems accurate.

Now, this picture is not very detailed is it? You’re trying to see yourself in this new role but new questions emerge, don’t they? Well, you’ve guessed it, these are the questions you should ask in your job interview! They show that you have a reasonable idea of what the positions entails and that you’re already close to doing it really well; you just need a little more information.

Now, going back to my sales example, my notes from this exercise look like this:

1. What is the objective of my new job?

To sell as many widgets as possible.

2. What is my biggest challenge in this job?

Distinguishing our widgets from those of the competition.

3. In my new job, what does a good day look like?

I’ve sold loads of widgets!

The Questions Almost Ask Themselves

You see, in using the framework that I’ve made, I’m naturally starting to ask myself things like:

  • Are there other objectives that I need to meet to be really successful in this role?
  • What are my metrics? i.e. How do I know when I’m meeting or exceeding my quota?
  • What product training is available?
  • How frequently do the other members of the sales team meet their quotas?

Just by asking these questions, you’re already gathering the information you need to hit the ground running in your new job but, even more importantly, you’re helping the interviewer imagine you in the position and doing everything you can to succeed! Perhaps you’re still wondering what questions you should ask in your job interview; if so, why not get in touch?

You can connect with me on LinkedIn here.

Also, don’t forget to check out our Interview Tips: The Top Ten

Finally, if you want me in your corner, landing you interviews and then helping you crush them, check out our services here.

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