"Good communication is key!"
I have two favorite follow-up questions that I always find can be very insightful for a candidate:
- What interested you in coming to work here? Asking this question can help you learn more about the company’s culture and the motivational reasons that your interviewer had for joining the company.
- What advice would you give to the person going into this position? Ask everyone who interviews you this question. Learning different views from a subordinate, peer, manager, etc., can be extremely helpful in understanding what will be expected of you in the position.
In addition, always ensure you ask about their timeframe for hiring the position and what the next steps look like in their hiring process. You can also ask the best method for following up on your applicant status. Good communication is key!
"... Focus on other aspects of the job you are interviewing for."
It is important to ask questions at each stage of the interview process to show your interest in the position and company and demonstrate that you have read about the organization. Until you have an offer, there is no need to bring up salary or benefits. Instead, focus on other aspects of the job you are interviewing for. Some examples of good questions to ask include:
- What is important here?
- How will I be evaluated?
- What is the training and onboarding process for this role?
- How will I continue to grow and learn in this position?
- How does this department's work contribute to the company's success?
- What will a typical day be like?
- How would you describe the culture of this department?
“Asking questions... can make you stand out in the eyes of the interviewer.”
Asking a question at the end of an interview is an opportunity that every candidate must leverage, as what you ask can make you stand out in the eyes of the interviewer compared to other interviewed candidates. It also showcases that the candidate:
- Is curious to know & learn more beyond what is being covered in the realm of the interview
- Has thought into specific critical questions, signifying that the candidate is serious about this opportunity and their career with the company.
Some questions to ask (if not already covered during the interview):
- Does the role (or offer) provide an opportunity to collaborate with cross-functional teams and learn & contribute to them? To the interviewer, this question signifies that the candidate values collaboration and does not want to be limited in silos.
- What horizontal career moves (or cross-skilling opportunities) are available for this role to create a holistic, long-term career with the organization? This signifies that the candidate is mature enough to look at the job and their broader career. It also indicates that the candidate is open to learning from horizontal roles and values cross-skilling.
- What are some ways an employee can grow within your organization? I would love to know about any inspiring career success story with your organization. This signifies that the candidate is ambitious and driven about their career. Also, the candidate is interested in having a long-term career with the organization.
- I would love to know about some of the IMPACT created by the work of this team for the organization or society at large. It signifies that the candidate is driven by a 'WHY' and making an impact through their work matters to them.
Remember to respect the interviewer's time and resist the urge to ask excessive questions.
"Do Your Research..."
Do your research – both on the company and the people interviewing you. Ask questions about the company's culture, the culture of the group considering you for employment, and the culture your potential boss is trying to form. A good question for your future boss is, "What keeps you up at night about your job?" The answer will signal what they think is a priority.
At the end of the interview, close with a statement that correlates your skills and abilities with the role, the positive observations you have made during the interview process, the excitement you have for the opportunity, and that you want to be offered the job. This will make you stand out and leave a positive impression with the interviewers.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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