Nail the ‘any questions?’ part of your interview

Guidelines for interview prep usually focus on ensuring you’ve done your research on the company who’s hiring, gone through your experience and prepped for the common interview questions you’ll expected to answer.

But what about the questions you’re expected to ask?

This is the part of the interview most people fail to prepare for, yet hiring managers cite as one of the most critical aspects in them making a decision and deciding between candidates. It’s not just impressive… it also shows that you’re curious and want to make sure this the the right role for you as much as whether you’re right for them.

So what do you do to nail the “any questions?” part of your interview?

Create a list to take with you based on the following 3 areas:

The Role

Which elements of the role, package or company are you not sure about yet? Write a list of the different elements and decide which ones you really need to know at this stage of interview.

It’s not usually good practice to ask questions about the package specifics like salary or employee benefits during the early stages of an interview, as it can look like all you’re after is money or holiday pay. But it’s perfectly fine to ask questions about the responsibilities, specifics of the job such as which software or system they use and who you’ll be working with.

Here’s some example questions about the role you might want to swipe and adapt:

  • Is this a new position? If not, why did the person before me leave this role?
  • What are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?
  • What does a typical day or week look like for the person in this position?
  • What are the challenges of this position?
  • What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
  • What process/method does the company use to ensure accuracy?
  • What enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems do you use?
  • Will the role involve presenting financial reports to senior management or stakeholders?

The Company / Culture

Even if you’ve done thorough research on the company, the person hiring you or your potential line manager and think you’re up to speed on the financial news and landscape for this industry, it’s always a good idea to check your assumptions and hear first hand.

This will show you whether the business is headed in a positive direction you want to be a part of plus what opportunities might come your way further down the line in this role.

It will also help you determine what it’s like to work for them, and the structure and atmosphere within the business – all important factors that go beyond the role and package and help ensure you’re a happy employee if you’re offered the job and take the position.

Make a list of any questions about the business and culture that you’d like to know.

Here’s some example questions about the role you might want to swipe and adapt:

  • Where do you think the company is headed in the next 5 years?
  • Who do you consider your top competitor, and why?
  • What are the biggest financial opportunities facing the company right now?
  • What’s the biggest threat to the financial standing of the business right now? Do you see this changing in the next 6-12 months?
  • How is the business adapting to the economy and interest rates?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture?
  • Does the business support staff CPD and vocational qualifications?
  • What do you like most about working for this company?
  • Is there anything we haven’t covered that you think is important to know about working here?

The next steps

This might not be necessary, as some interviewers will tell you anyway, but it’s a great idea to find out what the next steps of the interview process are and when you can expect to hear from them.

These questions can be fairly generic, so here’s a couple of examples you can use:

  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • How do I compare to other people you’ve interviewed so far?
  • What’s your timeline for making a decision?
  • When can I expect to hear back from you?

You may not get the chance to ask all of these in the first round, but having them prepared and on a printed list in front of you at the interview will help you check off what has been covered and make sure you not only show you’re interested in the position and company but that you’re ensuring it’s a good fit for you too. You can always go back to your list should you move to the second or third stages as well.

I know from my own experience having asked interesting questions at the end of an interview has helped me secure the job. So help yourself stand out from other candidates who may have the same qualifications and skills and nail the “any questions?” part of your interview by being prepared and ready to ask about the role, the company and culture and the next steps in the process.

Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.

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