Job interviews are all about questions from the employer. But then it’s your turn.
Employers almost always ask if you have any questions of them. If you are really nervous the temptation might be to decline and bid adieu.
But this is your opportunity to stand out a little more and help remove any doubt you are the right candidate. The questions I share in this article will help you reaffirm your strengths and stimulate discussion that will help you connect with the interviewer(s).
Your best interviews are going to feel more like discussions. If it’s just a question and answer session, you aren’t connecting enough. There should be an exchange of thoughts and ideas, so they can see clearly you on the same page as them. That builds trust and that is how you win interviews.
Salary and Benefits
You will notice that I did not include salary and benefits as questions to ask at a job interview. Yes, these are important questions. But employers will sometimes give you that voluntarily without you asking.
Avoid giving an employer the impression this is all you care about. Many will think it’s refreshing to have a candidate that seems more interested in the job.
I personally feel it’s best to talk salary when an employer is ready to make an offer. If they ask you what your requirements are, be prepared to supply a vague response. Honestly, you don’t know what is fair until you know more about benefits and have time to think it all through.
Why ask: There are two reasons to ask this question. First, it gives you some insight as to expectations and the type of employee they want. But it also gives you a chance to hear what they need and align your skillset with that need.
Q. What value does a person in this position bring to the company?
Why ask: This can give you an idea of how important this position is to the office. Is the employee considered a valuable partner? What role does the employee play? Your interest in this indicates that you take the job seriously and that your performance will matter.
Q. What were some strengths the previous employee had?
Why ask: Employers are looking for a candidate who is either better or equal to the previous person or situation. So, it’s helpful to know the strengths and weaknesses they have been experiencing.
And here’s a tip to pay close attention to. Sometimes knowing what ISN’T mentioned as a strength can be interpreted as a weakness. But this question will also give you a chance to marry your abilities with their needs.
Why ask: Every office has a culture. The interviewer, in this situation, is probably going to stay positive.
So, instead of focusing on their words, watch their body language and other cues. Did they suddenly seem a little bit uncomfortable or “off” compared to previous topics? Watch for things like long pauses as they consider the right words or some shifting in their chair.
Those could be signals there has been some internal strife or things the employer wants to correct. Genuinely, the problem could have mostly been with the employee and the employer is uncomfortable talking about the issue. Take note of their reactions as one piece of a much bigger puzzle.
Q. Beyond the job description, how can I make a valuable contribution?
Why ask: This is another way to get the employer to articulate what they really want in an employee. They will likely include things about their mission and your skills, their framework and your effort.
Again, take their response and blend it with your skill set to create a match.
Q. What’s the biggest challenge to hiring a new employee and the key to making it successful?
Why ask: Employers hate transition stages – they are costly to the business. They want an employee who can jump into the flow and make an immediate impact. They know it’s rare but it’s what they want.
If this is you, and you get that kind of a response, then communicate that. Come prepared with an example of where you were new to something but caught on quickly.
Why ask: This is important because some may not really have a vision and it will show when you ask.
Again, watch the body language they give off. And see if their response is overly vague or doesn’t match your ideal. Along with what you learn, the fact that you asked this communicates that you plan to stick around. And that’s something all employers want – especially employees with direct customer/client contact.
Remember, draw interviewers into discussions. Align their needs with your solutions. And, finally, watch carefully how they react to certain questions – their expressions and body language.
Doug Perry is an expert resume writer and job search coach. He and his wife, Tracie, who is a dental hygienist, created GetHiredRDH in response to the challenging dental hygiene job market and have helped thousands of dental hygienists through tips and individual services. If you need individual, click here to contact Doug.