As job seekers prepare for an interview, they often focus on strategies for answering the questions they think they will be asked. They ask themselves, “How do I make a weakness sound like a strength?” or “How do I explain a 2-year gap in employment?” They often forget to prepare the questions they will ask. Questions that can mean the difference between “we would like to offer you the job” and “we selected a more qualified candidate”.
If the thought of an upcoming interview brings images of a criminal interrogation similar to those conducted on television crime shows, it is time to change your perspective. Yes, an interviewer wants to hear the truth, but they also want to get to know you. An interview is a short period of time during which people (yes that means you and the interviewer) decide if they want to spend the majority of each day working together. Think of an interview as the corporate version of a first date.
Take a minute to reflect on times you have started new relationships. Were you flattered when the other person asked you questions? Did it make you feel that the person wanted to get to know you better? The same is true for the interviewer sitting across from the table. He/she is wondering if you will like them well enough to accept a job offer. If they get the impression you are not interested in them/their company they will hesitate to make an offer (no one likes to be rejected-better not to ask than to be told “no”).
Increase the possibility of getting a job offer by asking questions. A few strategies and suggestions for asking questions that will show your interest in the job and highlight your qualifications include:
After you have provided an overview of a project ask, “Would you like me to go into greater detail?”
After responding to a question about your strengths or talents ask, “Are these the characteristics you are looking for in top candidates?”
At the end of the interview, if you are given the opportunity to ask questions, make sure they reflect your interest in working with the interviewer. You may want to ask, “If I was offered this position, what would you like me to accomplish in the first 30 days?”, “How can the person in this position help you achieve your goals?”, “What is the next step in the process?” But take note: This is not the time to ask about benefits-wait until you have an offer.
Use questions to get the answer you want: “You have the job”.