Whether you’ve got an in-person or virtual job interview, what you ask is as important as what you answer. In today’s article, talent acquisition expert Reid Smallwood unpacks the best questions to ask in this important step of the job search process.
You’re likely familiar with some form of the phrase “You’re interviewing us as much as we’re interviewing you.” We hire many people here at Cox; and we can vouch for the fact that this is true!
Asking thoughtful, curious and relevant questions during an interview says a lot about your experiences, the type of teammate you’ll be and how serious you are about the job. Most importantly, these questions will help both you and your interviewer determine if you’ll be a good fit.
We asked senior talent acquisition consultant Reid Smallwood about some of the best questions a candidate can ask, why they should and what they’ll learn from the answers. While you don’t necessarily have to ask all these questions in every job interview (after all, some of this material may be covered in the information you receive from a recruiter beforehand), it should give you an idea of the types of things you should be curious about during this stage of the job search process. By using this list as inspiration, you can set yourself up success in the long run.
Reid Smallwood, senior talent acquisition consultant at Cox Enterprises
Question 1: What about my resume/background prompted you to contact me?
Why ask this? In addition to providing a bit of a confidence boost early in the interview, this question provides self-awareness of your strengths, allowing you to pinpoint which parts of your background and experience to play up later in this (or future) interviews.
Question 2: What are the key traits, skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
Why ask this? It’s always good to know up front what type of candidate a hiring manager is seeking. This will be beneficial in helping you frame and shape your answers during the interview. Additionally, it will help you do some introspection to decide if you’re truly going to be a good fit. If there are gaps between who you are and what they’ve described as an ideal candidate, can you fill them over time with training and experience? Or will this be a “square peg, round hole” situation?
Question 3: How would you define success for someone starting in this role?
Why ask this? Here’s a great chance to get a clearer view of what early expectations for the role are. By asking this, you’ll get a sense of the training period for the role, if there is a steep learning curve and whether they expect you to hit the ground running. It will also be important to keep these criteria in mind if you get the job, so you know how to exceed expectations right away.
Question 4: How is this job being done now?
Why ask this? Asking this question will shine a light on the situation you’re stepping into. Is this a new position, and will there be someone with experience available to help train or mentor you? And while it’s never a good idea to be the “know-it-all newbie” (you’ll want to take some time to educate yourself on the company and its current processes), asking this question early on may spark some ideas on how to improve the operations of this job and your greater team.
Question 5: What’s the biggest challenge facing someone starting in this role?
Why ask this? Ask this and pay attention to the answer, as it will allow you to follow up by speaking to your strengths and experiences that may differentiate you from other candidates. And of course, it will let you know if you’re honestly capable of meeting that challenge.
Question 6: What was the biggest challenge for you when you started?
Why ask this? You may be surprised at how candidly most recruiters will answer this question, and you’ll get a great feel for the company culture and its support for new employees.
Question 7: Can I address any concerns you may have that would hold me back from advancing?
Why ask this? This is a great question to ask toward the end of the interview, as it gives you another opportunity to clarify or speak to strengths you may have missed earlier.
Question 8: What are the steps in the process from here?
Why ask this? Ready to demonstrate your confidence and genuine interest in the job? Ask this question. Additionally, it gives you a good idea of the timeline of the hiring process: such as how many more interviews you can expect, how soon the hiring manager is looking to fill this role and so on.
There is no guaranteed recipe for success when it comes to job interviews, of course. But bringing these questions to your interview will certainly show that you’ve put some time and effort into preparing for yours.