A job interview is a two-way street, where both interviewer and interviewee try to determine if the candidate is a match for the role. While we all know that the candidate should prepare questions ahead of time, there is a tendency to think of these questions as a less important part of the interview, as if simply asking them is the purpose.
Instead, think of your questions as a chance to take the reins. Not all interviewers are equal, and their questions may not give you the opportunity to put your best foot forward. Or you might make a mistake and need another chance to highlight your strengths. Your questions allow you to draw out the key objectives and challenges of the position, and connect these directly to your previous accomplishments.
As recruiters, we hold a lot of interviews, and we also present candidates to our clients for interviewing. Here are some of the questions we recommend:
1) Ask about a recent project.
Demonstrate your research skills and interest in the organization by asking about a recent project, event or development. Try to pick something that ties into the specific job you’re applying to. If they recently changed their curriculum, opened a new department, or revamped their website, ask them how it went. Once you’ve discussed the project for a little while, you can bring up a similar project that you worked on in the past.
2) What are the major challenges I would face in this role?
This question gives you some very useful information and, once you have the answer, you can describe comparable challenges you’ve overcome, or the skills and processes you could use to solve the problems.
3) If I was successful in this role, what would I have accomplished after six month/a year/two years?
The answer here will tell you a lot about the role, the company’s corporate culture and their level of organization. It also presents you as goal-oriented and success-driven. If they give you some examples – for instance, the completion of a specific project, you can describe how you will fulfill those conditions for success, or share other times when you’ve accomplished similar objectives.
4) Do you have any concerns that would prevent me from getting the job?
This question is a bold one, but it gives you a last chance to directly address their concerns and potentially reverse a bad interview. You may want to prepare by thinking of any shortcomings you have on your resume. This is a bit like the ‘weaknesses’ question. You don’t want to dismiss their concerns, or give excuses. Instead use this as an opportunity to explain how you will overcome these concerns, and how your past successes will guarantee your future performance.