This week I had an interview coaching session with Jennifer, an experienced professional who was looking to hone her interview skills for a more senior opportunity. Securing this position is particularly important to Jennifer as it will allow her to step up to the next level and move her one step closer to her long-term career goal of being a Financial Controller.
Towards the end of our coaching session I asked Jennifer what questions she had prepared to ask the interview panel. Her response was that she would probably just make them up on the spot as she had always done in previous interviews. I was really surprised by this statement. I would have expected with her experience that Jennifer would have prepared specific questions in order to obtain the key information required to make an informed decision should she actually receive a job offer.
I suggested to Jennifer that she think about the questions she needed to ask to obtain information about what was most important to her. This could include information about the working environment, the anticipated challenges should she be offered the role, details about the team she would be managing, the values of the organisation and whether the company would be able to satisfy her career goals.
Why it is important to prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview?
As I explained to Jennifer, the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview would also allow her to build some rapport with the panel before the end of the interview. Therefore, it is advisable that she ask open questions to encourage some two-way conversation also allowing her the opportunity to potentially provide more detail about her relevant experience, skills and abilities.
Here are my top 6 questions to ask at your next interview:
1) Can you tell me more about the team I would be joining or managing?
This allows for some open conversation about the size of the team, the backgrounds of each member, their expertise and perhaps even some personality traits. This will allow you to get an insight as to whether these people may have a similar background to yourself and whether you would be a fit for the team.
2) What would be the key priorities in the first 3-6 months?
This question will give you insight into what their expectations are for the incumbent and will also show the panel that you are results-oriented. By providing an overview of the main priorities for the role you will quickly be able to assess whether you have the skills and ability to meet their requirements. This may also give you the opportunity to add in any relevant experience that you have from previous roles that would be desirable.
3) How would you describe the culture of the organisation?
This question should give you insight into what they value in their workplace culture. It should also give you an idea as to whether the organisation will suit your personality and be aligned to your own values. I always advise my clients to ask for examples to see if they can backup what they are promoting. If they say that there is a terrific ‘work/life balance/ then ask politely for some examples to get an understanding of whether their definition of work/life balance is the same as yours.
4) What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenges if I was successful in securing this role?
The response to this question should give you important information about what may be the biggest difficulties if you were offered the role. A good employer should be upfront about the challenges faced if they really want the right person on board. Challenges may include the need to performance manage a staff member, long hours or significant travel requirements. These are all important elements that you need to know upfront to make the best decision.
5/ Can you tell me about the next steps in the recruitment process and when I could expect to hear from you?
This is an important question as it allows you to plan for any future steps in the process and it also gives you an approximate timeframe to plan any follow-up emails or calls. This will ensure that any correspondence following the interview is appropriate and won’t be considered to be pushy.
6/ What do you enjoy most about working here?
This is my favourite question as it gives you some insight as to whether the interviewer really enjoys their job. If they pause and can’t think of anything to say then I would probably run a mile. This is also a great question to ask at subsequent interviews to see if you get consistent messages coming through about the organisation.
For Interview Coaching Assistance:
If you need assistance preparing for your next interview, please contact Leah Lambart at Relaunch Me Career Consulting on 0413 558 758 or email firstname.lastname@example.org