Whether you’re a first-timer or an old pro, a job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. Most of the time, you’re so focused on making a good impression and answering the questions that are put to you accurately and effectively that the idea of posing your own set of questions to the interviewer probably never even crosses your mind.
If you’ve ever said “No” at the end of an interview when the hiring manager asks whether you have any questions, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Contrary to popular belief, asking your own questions in an interview won’t make you come off as nosy or presumptuous. Instead, it’s a great opportunity to show off several of the most important traits that hiring managers are looking for.
Here’s the catch: what really counts in an interview is coming up with the right kind of question to ask. For example, asking the hiring manager what her favorite color is won’t exactly highlight your quick thinking and insightful analysis. But by taking the time to devise several pertinent, targeted questions to pose at the end of your interview, you’ll be able to show that not only are you unaffected by the stress of the interview process, but also that you have the kind of mind that can tap into the big picture -- even when you’re under duress.
So the next time you’re preparing for an interview, don’t stop at practicing your firm handshake and polishing your answers to perennial questions like, “Tell me about yourself.” Instead, take your time to craft a few smart questions of your own to bring along to the interview. Here are some basic tips and guidelines to help you get started.
No matter how many brilliant questions you’ve prepared in advance, it’s important to read the situation to determine how open your interviewer is to a two-way dialogue. If the hiring manager seems to want to take the lead, back off a bit and save your questions for the tail-end of the interview. If, on the other hand, the hiring manager seems to welcome your questions, feel free to ask about anything that you want clarified. In most situations, it’s traditional for the final phase of the interview to be given over to candidate questions.
In this day and age, there’s no reason to go into an interview without at least a basic understanding of the company to which you’re applying. Just a few quick Internet searches can tell you everything you need to know to ask intelligent, well-informed questions about the company, its strengths, its challenges, and its plans for growth. By asking questions that show you’ve done your homework, you’ll be able to wow your interviewer with your initiative.
The day-to-day difficulties of running a hospitality industry operation can be overwhelming, and hiring managers are definitely looking for candidates who are up to the challenge. But when it comes to flagging candidates with leadership potential, hiring managers are also looking for an ability to rise above the fray and take a bird’s-eye view of the situation. When you’re posing questions to the hiring manager, try to show that you’re equally comfortable with both types of responsibilities. Alternate operations-oriented questions with queries about the company’s strategy and long-term goals.
You definitely want to come away from an interview with a crystal-clear understanding of the duties, expectations, and day-to-day responsibilities of the position you’re applying for. But try to go above and beyond that with questions that seek to understand the company’s vision for the role. What is their vision for the position? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the last person who held the job? What are the most important functions of the job?
Even if your interviewer is so chatty that you can barely fit a word in edgewise, don’t leave the room without asking about their timeline for making a hiring decision and moving toward the next step in the process. Volunteer the best way to contact you and reiterate your eagerness to participate in further discussions, as well.
Even though many of us have been conditioned to think of interviews as a chance for hiring managers to play a one-sided game of 20 Questions, the best interviews are two-way dialogues that are fueled by input and inquiries from both parties. By interjecting at least a few of your own smart, targeted questions into the process, you’ll be able to demonstrate your analytical skills and your ability to think on your feet. Who knows -- the next question you might be answering is, “Can you start next Monday?”