The Interview, Asking the Right Questions

What Will YOU Ask During the Interview?

Be prepared for the great switch– the point in the interview when the interviewer turns the table and asks if you have any questions for them.  Asking the right questions during an interview is key to your success for many reasons:

1) you have an opportunity to convey genuine interest and even passion for the role

2) you demonstrate that you did your homework

3) you can secure answers about the company and the position

4) you have an opportunity for a real conversation

5) you have an opportunity to influence the outcome of the interview

Spending time preparing thoughtful questions could make or break a candidate’s success.

Company and industry research is one of the basic building blocks of good interview preparation.  Asking questions specific to the position, company or industry not only demonstrates an interest and shows the interviewer that the candidate is prepared, but it validates the interviewer’s decision to join the company.  People like to talk about what they do and why they chose to do it.  An example of this type of question is “I have noticed that the number of biotechnology companies in this region has doubled in recent years—Do you expect this to impact Company X’s significant role in this space?”

The interview presents the candidate with the opportunity to sit down with a decision maker at the company.  Accordingly, candidates must use this time to ask the questions that really matter to you.  For example, “What is the interplay between the legal department and the business team like?”  That being said, although important to a candidate, some questions are just not appropriate to bring up during an interview unless framed by the interviewer. These questions include questions about compensation, benefits, vacation and hours.  There are, however, ways to ascertain the information in an appropriate way.  To find out about hours, ask “What does a typical day/week look like for the successful person in this role?

Whether one person gets the job ultimately comes down to fit.  And, fit is determined by having a real conversation with both parties.  The candidate must use his/her questions as the chance to engage with the person sitting across the desk– many candidates are in such a rush to ask the next question that they are not really listening to the answer.   The candidate should discuss the answer so that the interview is more of a conversation between two individuals who share a common interest, the company.  A good response to an answer is “That is interesting that you say that. I also feel…”

Here’s your opportunity to present any information that may not have been covered thus far.  When you have the chance to ask the questions, you now have control of the interview and can ask questions in a way to highlight the information.  A great way to do this is “I successfully manage two junior lawyers in my current role. Is there an opportunity for me to manage a team here?”

Asking the right questions will meaningfully shape the interviewer’s impressions of you.

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