One Thing You Should Do In Every Interview

One Thing You Should Do In Every Interview

What You Should Do In Every Interview

If you end an interview with zero questions, you can seem cocky, disinterested, or scared.

We reached the end of the interview. I had asked all the questions I wanted, and I had a pretty good idea of what the candidate could offer. Then I turned it over to her. “What questions do you have?” The interviewee looked mildly surprised. After a long pause, she asked “What’s the best part about working here?” Sigh. That was the first (and only) question she could come up with.

Now, I’m not saying that’s a particularly bad question — especially after having been asked about working from home or about our catered lunches (please don’t do that!) — but she made it obvious that she didn’t have any prepared, and she couldn’t think of anything specific to ask.

I believe the most crucial part of an interview is when you interact with your interviewer beyond the general question and answer standard routine. When you’re asked to ask questions, the ball is in your court. The person across the table can’t tune you out while you talk about your accomplishments or why you’d be a good fit. Instead, the interviewer is on the spot. You not only get insider information about the company, but you get to know your interviewer, who in many cases may be your future boss. It’s your chance to build rapport and to have an actual conversation.

Curiosity shows that you’re interested in the company, position, and more. If you end an interview with zero questions, you can seem cocky, disinterested, or scared — three impressions you definitely want to avoid.

Why Ask Questions?

News flash: your interviewer has an ego too. While you might think an interview is your chance to talk about yourself and explain your resume in person, it’s really not. You’re in the room to sell yourself as a potential co-worker, direct report, or subordinate. Reciting what’s easily found in your cover letter or on your LinkedIn page won’t secure the job.

Your personality and potential — all judged during the interview — is what’s actually being tested. Which brings me back to the topic of ego. First, if you haven’t read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (first suggested to me by an Army major when I was 18), do that ASAP. It’s a classic book on human relationships; it’ll serve you well in the civilian world (and it saved my ass in the military many times too). The basic premise of the book is that everyone wants to be acknowledged as important.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to be genuinely curious. Try to get to know the person across from you. It really does help your chances at getting the job.

Which Questions Do I Ask?

Here are some questions to get you started. Feel free to tailor them to the particular position and company you’re applying to.

    – What challenges is the company/your team/this position facing right now?
    – What would the day-to-day look like for the [position you’re interviewing for]?
    – How often does your team set goals? What happens if you meet them/fail to meet them?
    – What would you change about the company if you could?
    – I noticed [something the company’s competitor does], did you ever think about doing something similar/what are your thoughts on that tactic?
    – What made you say yes to working here?
    – What’s the five year strategy for the company?
    – How do the teams interact? Is there a formal process for collaboration?


Now it’s your turn: What questions do you think work well in an interview? What questions have you asked before?