When a Question Becomes a Statement
Standing out as a candidate
“Prepare 10 questions. You and I both know that you won’t probably get a chance to ask all 10 questions but prepare 10 questions. Remember, your questions usually say more about you than your answers.”
When I prepare candidates for interviews for jobs, this is how I end the conversation. I remind them that the moment an interviewer asks, “do you have any questions for us?” the interviewee is in control. Every question the interviewee asks reveals a piece about who they are and why they are interested in the job.
So, you are asking yourself, where do I start? How do I come up with questions for my interviews? How do I show even more of who I am at the end of an hour-long interview?
Below are five categories of questions you can ask at any stage of an interview process.
- Questions about the organization- Do your research. Read as much as you can about the organization, not only the website but also any articles you can find. Ask the hiring manager or recruiter if there are any materials you can have prior to the interview.
- Questions about the future- Ask about their vision, strategic plans, and organizational development plans. Maybe they are about to move locations or maybe they just acquired a new piece of business—you want to ask for your own knowledge, but also to show you are going to be the person that gets them to that future.
- Questions about the job- Re-read the job description, pick out a couple pieces of the role that you are excited about, and ask for more detail. Hiring managers always want to make sure that interviewees know what the job is and there is no better way to demonstrate this than to ask questions that show you understand the role.
- Questions about the community- Show that you are a team player and understand how to work together. Ask about community partners and/or team partners to find out which people this position would work closest with as well as which outside organizations are partners.
- Questions about the person- In one-on-one or two-on-one settings, you can ask questions about the interviewer’s own career trajectory, passion, and drive for staying with the organization. You may find out information that is crucial to your own path.
Remember, these different types of questions should be used in a strategic way throughout the interview process. Some questions may be used in the first interview while others can be used more effectively on stage two.
The key is to come up with more questions than you think you will need. Often, you will not know how the conversation will go during the interview. It is key for you to have options so that when it is your time to shine, you will show who you are and what you can bring to their future.