This column is the second of a 2-part series on asking your interviewer questions that’ll impress them, thus setting you apart from your competition.
In my last column, I advised job seekers to ask their interviewer my favourite question, How will you manage me? This question allows me to gauge whether I’d be comfortable working under a potential boss’ management style.
Here are a few more questions I ask to help me determine whether the job, my potential boss, the company, and its culture are a good fit.
- What keeps you up at night?
As I mentioned in the previous column (Part 1), a job search is a sales process. Hence, an interview is a sales meeting.
Selling Principle 101: People buy solutions. Thus, companies don’t hire employees; they hire solutions.
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!“ – Professor Theodore Levitt
By asking your potential boss what keeps them up at night, you create the opportunity to sell yourself as “the solution,” which you can only do if you know the problems (READ: pain) your interviewer/the company is facing.
The key to being different—impressive—is to focus on the pain(s) your potential future boss is facing rather than just promoting yourself, which is what most job seekers do. “It’s as if the job description was written specifically with me in mind. I have the six years of programming experience you’re looking for, experience completing projects under tight deadlines, which my previous boss will attest to. Given my background and skill set, I’m confident I’d consistently meet your project deadlines within budget, which you’ve said hasn’t been happening for several years.”
Sell yourself as the quarter-inch drill.
- What will my first 15, 30, 45, 60, and 90 days look like?
You want to be sure your new employer will set you up for success. Therefore, you want to know the following:
- Will there be any formal training?
- Will you be buddied up for the first few months?
- Are you expected to hit the ground running from day one?
- Would you be inheriting neglected projects or clients?
- Will there be formal reviews to gauge your progress?
If you like what you hear, then great!
“Thank you for outlining your onboarding process. It’s clear you want to set up new employees for success. Besides what you outlined, are there any books, magazines, reports you recommend I read, or websites I should visit to enhance my learning curve further?”
Some hard-learned advice: If you have a gut feeling you won’t receive full support during your first six months, listen to your gut and move on.
- In this role, how is success defined?
Success and expectations differ widely from company to company. Now’s the time to lay all cards on the table, especially regarding expectations. Consider whether you’re capable and willing to meet those expectations. Honestly, assess yourself.
Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to succeed at Gekko and Co.? If the answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” then say so. “This sounds like a challenge I’d like to take on. At Consolidated Insurance, I made no less than 45 cold calls daily, setting at least five appointments for our brokers. I don’t see it being a problem to make the 35 to 40 cold calls you expect me to make.”
Think twice if you feel the expectations are unrealistic or beyond your current abilities. After “You’re not a fit,” failure to meet expectations is the most common reason for terminating a new hire.
- What skills does the leadership team here value?
Make your interviewer aware of matches between your skills and those valued by the company. “I’m glad you mentioned continuous learning is valued here at Globo-Chem. Currently, I’m pursuing my project management certification through evening classes at Hudson University.”
Here are additional questions you could ask your interviewer that’ll impress them and help you decide whether the opportunity is right for you.
- What are your pet peeves?
- How will my performance be measured?
- If you could have added one thing to the person who previously held this job, what would it be?
- In my first year, what would I need to accomplish to prove to you hiring me was the right decision?
- What are the characteristics or traits of your top people?
- What new skills can I learn here?
- How do you see this position evolving in the next three years?
- What would you change about the company if you could?
- What’s the most frustrating part of working here?
- What is holding the company back?
- What’s an example of a client challenge you have recently faced?
- What is the question you wanted to ask me but didn’t?
When you ask questions to gain insight, not only do you impress your interviewer you also create opportunities to explain why you’re the right candidate, a crucial aspect to getting hired—to making the sale.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.