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Finish strong with good questions for the interviewer

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

When conducting interview skills coaching, many clients ask "Do I really have to ask questions at the end of the interview?"

The answer is "yes". Good questions for the interviewer is equally if not more crucial than answering all the other questions well. The questions you pose to the interviewer, is usually the last impression you leave during the interview, so you need to make it count.

When hiring managers conduct interviews, they may have a back to back schedule, with candidates lined up, one after the other. And as these candidates were already filtered earlier using their resumes, you can assume that if you are being called for an interview, that there will be several candidates with similar skills and capabilities to yours. The interview becomes your moment to differentiate yourself. And the only moment where the interview swings into your control is when you are asked "do you have any questions for me?"

I usually advice our clients to prepare at least 3 questions ... and be ready to use 2. While 2 is the suggested number, do exercise your own judgement as to how many questions is most appropriate. If you had a question that resulted in a very thorough discussion with the interviewer, and it took a long while to discuss, you may wish to stop with just that 1 question - especially if you realise that the interviewer took a great interest in that question. Or if you see the interviewer tapping away, or looking at their watch, or seem to be in a hurry, keep the number of questions down to just a maximum of 2.

It is important to note that the opportunity to ask a question needs to be taken seriously and there is such a thing as a bad question when it comes to an interview.

Stay clear of any question that can be found easily in your job description and company website. Asking a question like "when was your company formed?" when the website clearly states "Founded in 1984" in bold on the home page, is not only going to be a waste of the opportunity but may produce a negative impression. Any question that you can answer yourself without any insight from someone working within the company should not be asked.

Also stay clear of any personal questions. You are not there to debate with the interviewer on their personal values or morals.

So, what kind of questions should you ask and how do you choose what to ask?

1. Company specific questions

The purpose of the question is to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the company and your interest in working for the company. The questions needs to be tailored to the specific company and needs to show that you not only have the required skills, but you have a keen interest in this particular company.

How do you choose what to ask?

You should have already done your research on the company when preparing for the interview - but what you need to do is to think of questions as well . Read the company website, Google the company name - in particular, take note of any recent developments or news relating to the company. Did they launch something new -perhaps a new product, new office, or a new initiative? Did the CEO announce an important development?

Then brainstorm questions that build upon your knowledge of the company. Anything new that the company is doing provides you with a great platform to not only demonstrate your insight, but also provides you with a chance to know more about a development that is recent and perhaps not discussed much in the public domain.

Consider questions such as:

1. I understand that you have just established a new office in China. May I know more about the company's direction and strategy in China?

2. I read in the newspapers that the company will be focusing more on technology related areas. How will this change the way things are being done now? Will there be any change in your hiring strategy?

3. How does the new legislation announced by the Consumer Association (for e.g), affect the company?

2. Personal development/role specific questions

These type of questions demonstrate that you are thinking ahead about your future in the company. And that personal growth and fit within the company is important to you. This is also an opportunity for you to gain more understanding about whether this company suits you.

How do you choose what to ask?

Again, nothing beats good research and preparation. Focus on details on the website that relates to career pathway, training and development, details of leaders of your particular department of interest. Again, avoid questions that have clear answers that can be found on their company website.

Consider questions such as:

1. May I know more about the type of training and continuous learning opportunities in the company?

2. For this role that I am applying for, who will I be reporting to and how large is the team?

3. Can you tell me more about the team that I will be working with?

Being prepared plays a huge part in doing well in an interview. You can prepare and practice for interview questions but do not forget that finishing strong with great questions is also important. Put in effort to ensure that you leave the interview with a positive impression - do your research and practice, practice, practice.


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