Job interviews tend to end the same. After answering everything the interviewer has for you, you're asked for questions of your own. “Do you have any questions for me?” is one of the few questions you can be sure will come up.
But what questions should you ask at the end of a job interview? Why are they asking you for questions to begin with? Angela Guido is here to talk you through it as we look to make Mondays better!
For all things interview-related, check out this interview Miniseries or my book Interview Hero!
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
What I'm telling you today is based on decades of experience screening interviewees, interviewing people, hiring people, and coaching people to get the job of their dreams. Welcome to Make Monday's Better, your source for information on how to have a better career this week and experience more happiness at work. Today I'm going to tell you what questions to ask your interviewer. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, a Career and MBA Coach for the last 15 years, and a former Recruiter at KPMG and the Boston Consulting Group. I'm going to tell you four big things in this video today. First, I'm going to tell you what the question part of the interview is really about. It's not what you think. The second thing I'm going to give you is a framework to think for yourself, to ask intelligent questions of any interviewer, in any future conversations you're ever going to have. The third thing I'm going to tell you are five questions that you can steal right now to steal the show in the last minute of the interview when you are asking questions of your interviewer. And finally, I'm going to tell you how not to blow it in the last minute when you're asking questions and listening. Before I get into all this juicy information about intelligent questions to ask in your interview, take a moment and subscribe to this channel. Click the bell so that you get notifications and give this video a thumbs up. It really helps us create more content that's more valuable to you as you seek to build more joy in your career.
Are you ready? Let's go! I want to let you know who I'm talking to. So like I said, I was a recruiter at KPMG and the Boston Consulting Group. I have an MBA. I've helped people get into just about every major company you can imagine. Tech companies, investment banks, private equity, management consulting firms, small firms, large firms, startups, you name it. But I'm really talking to those of you who are applying for serious professional jobs. You want to work in consulting, you want to work in banking. You want to work at Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple. You want a job that all your friends are going to be jealous of. That's who I'm talking to. All right.
1. Why Do They Want You To Ask Questions?
So as we think about those interviews, let's ask ourselves, why is the interviewer giving you the chance to ask questions at the end of the conversation? It's not so that they can give you more information about the job. Usually, you've gotten all the information you need about the job from the human resources person that is assuring you through the recruitment process. So in the interview, the questions for the interviewer are not tactical. They're not logistical. They're definitely not evaluative. The person you're talking to probably doesn't even know what the next steps in the recruitment process are. They don't know when you're going to get an answer. They don't know when you're going to get an offer. They probably don't even know if you have more interviews that you have to go through to get to the end. The point of the interviewer giving you the chance to ask them questions is to see how thoughtful you are in cultivating relationships. Because if you're working in a big, serious firm where you're going to have a major salary and major responsibilities, the people that you're going to be working with want to know that you are good to work with. This is an important moment for you to pass the airport test, to show the interviewer that you're someone that if they have to sit next to you in an airport for 3 hours because your flight has been canceled, they're going to feel good about that. So your goal when asking the interviewer questions, it's not about information, it's not about logistics, it's not about showing them that you know a lot of stuff about the firm and the job. It's about building a connection. It's about building a relationship. And how do you build relationships? You ask thoughtful questions that give someone the chance to share their own experiences. You listen thoughtfully and you show them that you understand what they've said. It's a completely different objective than most people teach you to think about in this moment. When you're asking questions of the interviewer, it's really about them. It's not even about you at this point. It's about you making them feel good that you're someone they want to work with.
2. The Framework
So given that this moment is your chance to build a relationship, how should you be thinking about asking questions? So here's the framework I want you to use as you're formulating questions for your interviewer:
- First is who are you talking to? You need to understand a bit about the person you're talking to. In most cases, the firm will tell you who you're interviewing with. You'll see their resume, you'll see their job description. You can also potentially look at their LinkedIn. So you get an understanding of who this person is, how they fit into the organization, and where they've come from. You don't have to do in depth research. You don't have to stop them online. You just need to understand basically who is this person that you're talking to and most importantly, how do they fit into the organization and how will they be related to you in the role that you're applying for? So what's the dynamic there? That's the first thing.
- The second thing you need to do is think about what experiences has this person had that I'm interested in hearing about? You only want to ask questions at this moment that you genuinely want to hear the answer to. Don't waste their time, don't waste your own time. Ask questions that you're actually interested in. If this person works in the company that you want to work for, they've got a lot of insight to share with you.
- And this is the third most important part, you want to ask them questions that give them the chance to talk about themselves, to talk about what they know, to give you advice, and to share their own experiences. Because let's be honest, doesn't it feel great to talk about your experiences to someone who is genuinely interested in learning from you in that moment? There's almost nothing that fans the ego or even the self-esteem. It doesn't have to be an ego-driven thing. It just feels really good to have someone listen to you and care about what you're saying, when what you're saying is the content of your own life experience.
That's your framework. If you use those guidelines, you're going to come up with amazing questions for anyone that you're talking to in an interview. And by the way, I recommend that you prepare enough questions in advance to fill about 15 minutes. It's rare that an interviewer will give you 15 minutes to ask questions, but if you're the kind of person who gets nervous and you're not sure you're going to be able to think of questions on the fly, prepare enough questions to fill 15 minutes, which for most people is going to be somewhere in the ballpark of five or six questions.
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3. Five Questions To Ask An Interviewer
So with that, I'm now going to tell you five questions that you can steal, that you can lift right from this video and use in almost any interview to build a meaningful connection in that last moment and showcase that you pass the airport test and give the person the experience that they want you on their team.
- Question number one: What have you seen people do to get up to speed quickly within this organization?
- Question number two: What have you seen people struggle with when adapting to the culture of this company?
- Question number three: What are the core success criteria for this position? What will my success be evaluated on?
- Question number four: What do you see as the growth opportunities for the person who takes this role within this organization?
- Question number five: How have you found the culture at this company? How have you navigated your career to date within this organization?
So that's just five questions. I could keep going. I could come up with 100 questions that you could ask someone that gives them the chance to share their own experience and give you valuable information that will be helpful to you in this role, showing that you're committed to the company, you're passionate about the organization, but that you're also genuinely interested in learning from the person that you're speaking to. You want to notice that each and every question on that list gives the interviewer the chance to share their own wisdom and knowledge and or to give you advice.
4. Stop! Listen!
Now it's time to listen. And in some ways, in the interviews that I used to conduct, this moment is the make-or-break moment — there are many — but this is one of the make-or-break moments in an interview. If you ask me a thoughtful question, and I can tell that while I'm pouring my heart out giving you advice, you're not actually listening to me, you're just waiting for me to pause so that you can ask the next question, this is what I'm going to do on your resume. I'm going to cut you right there, because listening might be the very most important professional skill that you are going to use every day of your life, in every relationship, in every meeting and every conversation, in absolutely everything you do. If you don't show me that you are able to be present with another human being, listen, and care about what they say when you are the one who asks the question, you are not going to succeed in any job that you actually want. So in this moment, listen. Listen to what the interviewer says. Engage with what they're saying. Ask follow up questions if they come to mind. If you want to hear more about something, ask. Be there with them in that moment. Turn off the part of your brain that knows it's being evaluated and just be there with that person. Smile. Nod. I'm not a big fan of active listening, that's a subject for a different video, but just listen. Just be there and listen to what they say. And then let the conversation flow organically from there. My clients who have taken this advice have found that interviews that are supposed to last a half an hour go for an hour and a half, because you get into this rich exchange of information between two professionals. You're building the foundation of that relationship right there. And if you get this job, guess what? You're going to have a relationship with that person. You're going to be working with them, collaborating with them, or in meetings with them. They're going to be a part of your world. So use this last part of the interview as a chance to build a foundation that will form the basis of your professional friendship with your interviewer. Whether you get that job or not, you will have made a connection that will have value for you in anything that you do afterwards.
So that's it! Those are the four things you need to know as you are planning to go into your interview. You need to understand the importance of building a relationship in that last moment of the interview. You need to use my compelling framework for figuring out how to ask meaningful questions of each and every interviewer that you talk to. I gave you five great questions to steal, but hopefully you can think of a lot more that are going to be really interesting to you. And then finally, last but certainly not least, listen. Give them the gift of your listening. You'll be really glad you did. If this video was useful to you, please subscribe to our channel, give us a like and leave me a comment. Let me know what videos I can create to help you make your Mondays better. I'll see you next time!
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