I have been for many job interviews over the years; some successful, some not so. Something that everyone tells you when going for an interview (including myself) is to try and gain something from the experience – even if you are not offered the job.
One thing I have learned from all of my interview experience, and something I continue to do, is to try and turn the interview on its head and use it as your chance to find out more about the company.
Let’s face it; the job might not be so appealing after you have found out more about the firm who is hiring.
So, don’t wait until the end of an awkward interview and then have to be prompted to ask questions – fire away as soon as you can.
This not only gives you a better overview of the company; it also shows you are keen and interested in the role.
Here are a few interview questions you should remember to ask:
1. “Is this a new position? If not, why did the previous employee leave?”
Most people are so focused on getting the job they are going for that they don’t think to ask why the position is available in the first place. Has the previous employee moved on to better things? Have they been fired? Did they quit? The interviewer may not give you all the details, but from their answer you should be able to form your own opinion of the company and the position.
2. “What are the prospects for growth and advancement?”
Employers like to know that a candidate is around for the long haul and not just killing time before another more attractive role comes up. Asking about what the future holds, for both you and them, gives the impression that your plans are long term and you are dedicated and committed.
3. “Is there anything I can I tell you about myself?”
This is your chance to really put the interviewer/s on the back foot. Don’t wait for them to prompt you, get in there first and ask them if there is anything they would like to know. Not only does this show great confidence; it also eliminates any awkward pauses and gaps in the conversation.
4. “Would you like to see some references?”
References are sometimes seen as just an addition to a candidate’s CV and just tagged on at the end to fill-up that empty space. This is a big mistake. References are a great way of showing just what you are capable of and many employees put a lot of faith in them. Mention any glowing references you have as early as you can in your interview and bring some copies of written versions to display. This is also a good chance to mention courses you have completed and training seminars you may have attended.
5. “What are the qualities you are looking for in an employee?”
This is another great way to demonstrate your confidence, and a superb opportunity to steer the conversation towards your skills and achievements in the work place. Obviously, you’ll have to be quick off the mark with this one as many interviewers will start off by asking what your qualities are – so try and get in there first.
6. “If I am offered this job, when would you like me to start?”
If a start date hasn’t already been stated in the job description, it’s a good idea to establish just when you might be required. Don’t go overboard with this one. Maybe slot it in at the end if there is time for a few extra questions. You want to appear confident, but at the same time you don’t want to seem presumptuous.
7. “When can I expect you to contact me?”
Another one for when the interview is winding up, but this is actually a very important point. In the digital and e-mail age, some companies don’t feel the need to inform unsuccessful applicants, instead taking the view that no news is bad news. But it’s only fair that you find out how your interview went. So, make sure you get confirmation of when you will be informed and don’t be afraid to make a follow-up call or even request feedback.
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