Many interviewers will give the interviewee an opportunity to ask questions at the end of an interview. This is an opportunity for the interviewee to further impress upon the potential employer their credibility as a strong candidate for the vacant position. If the candidate asks the wrong questions or does not have any questions, it can also leave doubts. It is therefore important that candidates prepare for the likelihood of being given the opportunity to ask questions of their own.
The typical mistakes made by candidates are that they either have no questions or that they ask selfish questions regarding financial and working conditions. Why are these mistakes? To have no questions is a mistake as many interviewers will see this as an indicator that you are not that interested in the role or have not given that much thought to what has been discussed. Even if this is the case, every interview is an opportunity for you to enhance and practice your interview skills and also gain confidence from clients wanting to progress you to the next stage. Therefore having no questions is unacceptable. Asking questions regarding working times, salary, monthly pay date, amounts of holiday, parking etc. is probably worse than having no questions. Such questions position you as a candidate who is only interested in what you can get out of the job and not what you will bring. If you wish to work in the best performing organisations in the world, such an attitude will not help you through the door.
I believe that the best type of questions to ask focus around the teams objectives and how you would be able to help achieve these once you were in the post. In order to ask more than one question and prompt conversation at this stage I would advise starting with a closed question such as
‘What is the team’s savings target for the year?’
followed by an open question
‘What will be our/the biggest obstacles to overcome and beat this target?’
At this point you can position yourself as already having the role if you feel comfortable that the interviewer will not see this as presumptive. To be safe you should avoid using the term ‘we’ until you have been offered the job, however, when judged correctly, positioning yourself as already being part of the team can really win over interviewers. In the line of questioning I have started above, the natural progression is to focus on how your role can help overcome the perceived obstacles and to speak positively about your experiences in a similar environment. Everybody has obstacles that they would like to overcome and if you position yourself as a candidate with the specific experience to help the interviewer on what is important to them, you are increasing your value.
The danger of pre-prepared questions is that the information you are asking for may have already been covered in the interview. For this reason it is important to consider a number of different subjects that you might centre your questioning around and then either focus on the one that hasn’t come up, or link your question to something that you have been told. Here is an example of how you could link earlier information
‘You mentioned that the team’s savings target for 2011 was £25000000, what do you see as being the main obstacles that will need to be overcome to beat this target?’
It is crucial to be taking notes during the interview in order that you can quote back what you have been told. Misquoting is a fatal mistake as it would appear that you have not been listening.
To summarise the above, I believe that the best way to impress and win over an interviewer is to focus on what he or she wants and how you can help them achieve this. Using the end of interview questions as an opportunity to display how you can help the interviewer beat their own targets is a tactic that will serve to help increase your chances.