Bring and Ask Questions

Quick Summary: : Interviews need to be two-way dialogues in which both parties ask and answer questions.


You can be sure that anyone who interviews you will have a list of questions that they want to be answered.  It is their job to make a value judgment about your suitability for the position in question.  Turnabout is fair play and is to be expected.  Similarly, your job is to determine the company’s suitability in meeting your goals.  You can make that determination only by receiving answers to the questions on your mind.

Think of your interview as an open-book test in reverse.  Instead of preparing answers in anticipation of the questions that will be asked, bring questions that you want to be answered.  Of course, the opposite is also true.  During your interview preparation efforts, think through and say out loud, preferably standing in front of a mirror, the answers to the obvious questions that will be asked.  Focus on concise answers that demonstrate that you have thought through the subject or issue beforehand.

Bring a written list of questions.  Whatever you do, do not list them on your smartphone and refer to it.  If you do, the interviewer is likely to assume that you are checking one of your social media accounts!  Instead, explain to the interviewer ahead of time that you have a list on paper, and will be openly referring to it.  This technique will accomplish two important goals.  First, it will show the interviewer that you have prepared for the interview.  Second, it will help you cover all the bases during this pressure-packed event.  Asking different interviewers the same question will help you determine if there is alignment across the organization and, it may provide you with different perspectives and insights.  Thoroughness and attempting to gain a deep understanding of the position, the company, and how you will fit in is in everyone’s best interest.  No one wants to make a hiring mistake.  Do not hesitate to ask questions regarding your perceptions about the company from an “outsiders” point-of-view.  This helps project honesty and sincerity.  Company images from the outside and the inside can vary widely.  Many employees are very proud and defensive about their company.  If there are some negative aspects that you wish to probe, phrase them as sincere questions instead of definitive statements. 

Ask about internal communications, both up and down the organization.  Try to gauge a company’s openness in dealing with employees and customers.  Open-ended questions that ask the interviewer for their opinions will be revealing and will help you form a bond with the interviewer. 

Above all, listen to a person’s response!  This seems obvious, but often the questioner is so focused on the next question that they want to ask that they never hear the previous response.  “Dead airtime” between an answer and asking your next question is OK.  It shows the interviewer that you, indeed, did listen to their response.  Look them straight In the eye, not down at your notes, when they are responding.  The answers are important but how you receive their answers is even more important.

Finally, if some response or comment was not clear, do not hesitate to ask the interviewer to further explain or amplify their response.  Show interest and, more importantly, BE interested.  You may be “on stage” trying to make a great impression, but the stakes are much higher.  Focus on understanding, and do it by asking.


Article Number : 9.020107   

A Handy Reference Guide for Executives and Managers at All Levels.

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