By: Clark Jenkins
Being a candidate in today’s job market can certainly be a stressful time. Interviewers are skillfully trained to analyze your responses to challenging questions. For Interviewees, having a great list of your own questions is the first step in separating yourself from the competition and moving you closer to your dream job. This doesn’t mean playing “stump the interviewer” with difficult questions. This does mean being present in the conversation and asking intelligent questions that are relevant to the conversation – not scripted.
Tell a Story, Then Ask Your Questions: Tell a quick positive story relating to something that you are proud of with regards to your work history, then position a question to the interviewer. For example, “I loved that my previous company offered a mentor program. When I first started in my career I benefited greatly from one-on-one interaction with a mentor. As I became more seasoned, I was surprised that when I became the mentor how much I continued to learn from my mentee. Does this company have any programs that mirror development like this?” If so, follow up with, “What are the requirements to participate?”
Find a Possible Solution to a Problem: “Has the company thought about this possible solution to this problem?” Do some research that doesn’t start and stop with the company website. Find a pain within the organization and do some homework with a possible solution to that problem. Research the industry and get creative with an idea that could result in success for the prospective company. This will demonstrate your willingness to be a team player and show that you care about the wellness of the organization. This simple step will set you ahead of so many candidates whom only regurgitate the company website. Follow up with, “Are other competitors within the industry faced with this similar issue?”
Footprint: “Tell me about some of the philanthropic work the organization takes pride in contributing to within the community?” Most likely there will some mention of this on the company website. More often than not, this is just company speak. Does the organization give back to the community? If that is important to you, and it should be, understanding this can help you decide if this organization aligns with your own values. Follow up with, “What is it about this cause that drives the organization to contribute?”
Hire to Fire: From on-boarding to off-boarding, can you tell me the role that HR plays in ensuring that all employees have the ability to grow and succeed? HR gets a bad rap because the perception is that the only time they are visible is during the hiring and the firing process. The best organizations allow their human resources department to be an extension of their leadership and provide invaluable training opportunities as it pertains to learning and development. Understanding the overall scope of the role within HR will tell a lot about the health of the organization. Follow up with, “Are you able to share an initiative that HR developed and how it resulted in a positive change within the organization?”
Next Steps: “Do you have any hesitation about my qualifications?” Use this question to address any concern that may not have been clear in the interview. If their concern is a weakness of yours, then you can highlight another example of how you overcame another weakness in the past. If you are interested in moving the interview process forward, always ask what the next steps will be and never just end an interview with thanking them for their time and the opportunity to learn about their business. Send a thank you email or note every time. No exceptions.