Do You Have Any Questions? Preparing Questions for Interviews.

When getting ready for an interview, it is important to not only prepare yourself to answer the questions you may be asked, but also questions that you can ask the people who are interviewing you. Many job seekers get so excited about finally getting an interview opportunity that they forget that interviewing is a two-way street.  Yes – you need to make sure that this company and job are a good fit for you!  Otherwise, you’ll be going through the job search process all over again when you (or the company) realize that it just wasn’t a good fit.

But like with every other aspect of the job search process, the questions you ask during an interview can make a good or bad impression on the person with whom you are interviewing.  First and foremost, asking no questions will leave a bad impression.  Early on in the interview process, asking questions about salary, benefits, vacation time, dress code, holidays, etc., can come across as petty or self-interested.

Whenever I’ve interviewed for a position, I’ve always asked questions that enable me to connect with the interviewer by showing an interest in their personal story.  The following questions will help you both connect with your interviewers, and also give you the type of insight you need to determine if this is the job for you.

  1. What brought you to this organization?  It’s always interesting to hear what attracted someone else to a company.  It gives you some insight into what’s important to them and how they view the company’s strengths and employment brand.
  2. How would you describe the company’s culture?  The answer to this question will show you if the company is fun or stuffy; team oriented or every-man-for-himself; hardworking or laid back; creative or old school.
  3. What do you like about working here? This one is pretty self-explanatory – the answer will give you insight into what’s great about working at the company – identifying its strengths as an employer.
  4. What one thing would you change about the company?  I love this question – it’s a tough one – but it should provide you with an idea of what the company could stand to improve on.  You’ll get an honest answer or you’ll watch the interviewer fumble through it like a job seeker with the “greatest weaknesses” question.  Either way – you’ll walk away with insight into what the company could do better.

Using these questions will help you connect with the people you are interviewing with and get the answers you need to make your decision should you get an offer.  What other questions have you found important to ask in the interview process?

 

This post originally appeared on the Personal Branding Blog

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BUSTED! Don’t Be an Interview Liar!

A job interview can be an anxiety causing situation – you want to make a good impression, you want (or need) the job.  So something happens inside you – you’re not the same person – you start to exaggerate your experience – and then – BAM – you’ve gone too far! 

Bad idea, mon frère!  We HR folks are pretty crafty – and it’s our job to smoke out the liars.   Recently, I conducted an interview with a candidate and asked them a question to see how they would describe a very technical concept to a non-technical person.  To be fair to them, I first asked if they knew the difference between Concept A and Concept B – to which they quickly said “Yes, I do”.  I then asked them to explain the difference to me as if I did not understand the technical jargon.  This caught them off guard and the person struggled to explain something that they clearly did not understand.  Ultimately, as the candidate stumbled through their answer, they finally came clean and said they did not know the difference.  They also said they weren’t expecting to be asked technical questions in an interview with an HR person.  Oh no you didn’t just underestimate me! 

The truth is – I wasn’t asking the question to see if they knew the difference between the two concepts – I was asking them to see how they would explain something technical in an easy-to-understand way.  The problem was not that they didn’t know.  The problem then became that they LIED about their knowledge, assuming I wouldn’t ask a deeper follow-up question.

It amazes me how many people don’t recognize that a good interviewer is going to ask follow-up questions.  When asking about computer skills, I start off asking the person to rate their skills for various Office programs on a 1 – 10 scale.  When a person rates themselves high – like a 9 or a 10, I probe further, asking for them to tell me about the most complicated spreadsheet they ever created, or to tell me about the advanced features they know.  Surely, if they are a 9 or a 10, they must know some advanced features, right?

One more example, I interviewed a candidate for a position that would have required the person to work with Spanish-speaking workers.  The person claimed as a strength their ability to speak and understand Spanish.  Being an intermediate Spanish-speaker myself, I asked him to tell me something in Spanish.  He couldn’t do it.

While this type of questioning does give insight into the candidate’s knowledge-base, the main purpose is to see how honest and how willing to admit their mistakes they are.

Recruiters – what liars have you BUSTED in your interviews? Did you hire them?

Job seekers – what lies have you told to get the job?  Did you ever get BUSTED?

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