One of the most stressful parts of finding that next step in your career is the interview. This is where the ‘rubber meets the road’ on whether you and your colleagues-to-be will have the right chemistry. Of course, the stress comes from making sure that everything for your interview is ready to go: Is my resume up to date? Did I do my homework on the organization and the people I will meet? Will I be able to properly frame my reasons for making a move? Will I be able to handle the unexpected question? What should I wear?
With all of those worries about making the right impression, you might forget one important thing – you are interviewing your future colleagues as much as they are interviewing you. That’s right. The interview is also a time for you to get a real sense for how an organization feels, and the type of people who work there. Just as much as the interviewers want to see if you are the right fit for the firm or company, you want to make sure that you think it will be a good place for you to work.
So, what is the best way to both make a good impression and find out whether the organization is right for you? Ask probing questions.
Having some questions at the ready when you go into your interview can work wonders for you. That is because it not only informs what you would like to know about the organization, but it shows the interviewers that you are engaged and active in your job search.
In this article, we are going to discuss the four reasons why asking probing questions at an interview shows that you have “the right stuff” as an interviewee, and then we will give some examples of good probing questions to ask. Hopefully, these tips can give you that extra boost that brings your interviewing skills to the next level.
Why Ask Questions?
Oftentimes, we give complete control over to the interviewers in the process. It is a natural instinct. We are coming to their workplace, they want to learn more about us, they want to ask us questions, and we are hoping that they pick us. With that setup, it is no surprise that we want to be very accommodating, make the right impression, and be whatever they would like us to be. After all, we want to get the job, right?
Naturally you might fear that asking a probing question might be off-putting or create the sense that you are a problem candidate. We suggest that you put those worries aside.
There are four important reasons why asking probing questions will actually help you step up your interviewing game in a big way.
- Shows Interest
When you are talking with someone about a subject that interests you, you don’t want that person to simply nod politely and agree with everything you say. Wouldn’t you prefer the person to ask you questions and really engage with the subject? That is what is what interviewers are looking for – someone who is actively engaged in the process and, ultimately, the organization.
By asking probing questions, you are showing the interviewer that you care, that you are interested in their workplace, and you are interested in making sure that your addition to the team is a mutually agreeable goal.
- Shows That You Have Done Your Homework
In school, you know that it was hard to ask insightful questions and stay engaged in the lesson when you did not prepare for class. By contrast, with a little time hitting the books, you were able to have a good handle on what was important about the next day’s lesson.
The same is true of interviews. If you take a little time to learn about the organization, and the people with whom you will be interviewing, then you will automatically have organization-specific questions to ask. Then, when you ask those questions, the interviewer will know right away that you have prepared for the interview, and that you have genuine curiosity about the organization in particular. Big points for you!
- Shows You’re Smart
Asking probing questions also has the effect of showing that you are an intelligent person – always a good thing to display during an interview. Showing that there are things that you do not know, and would like to learn more about, is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign that you are smart enough, and confident enough, to know that you don’t know everything and that you want to learn more.
- Helps You Make a Decision
Probably the most important reason to ask probing questions is because you want to know whether the job is right for you. Asking probing questions, so you get a real sense of the place, is the best way for you to figure out whether you will accept a job offer if it comes your way.
What Probing Questions Should I Ask?
The best advice is that you should ask the questions that come to mind when you do your research on the organization and the people with whom you will meet. And do not be hung up on asking questions that you think will flatter the interviewer. Instead, focus on questions that will get to the heart of what it is like to work there, and whether it would be a good fit for your working style.
With regard to questions like salary and benefits, leave those until after you receive a job offer. The probing questions we are talking about during the interview should be about organization culture, management expectations, and what type of employees fit in that organization.
With that in mind here are few examples of solid probing questions to ask:
- What does the person need to do to be considered successful in this role, and how will you measure it? This question goes to management expectations. Asking this type of question will give you a very good sense of how your work will be evaluated.
- What’s the organization’s major objective or biggest challenge? This question speaks to the organization’s culture. It will inform what matters most to the organization: Is it money? Is it work-life balance? Is it competition in the marketplace? Is it doing good in the world?
- What do the best people do differently than average people in this role? This is a way to find out what the organization views as exceptional work, compared to so-so work.
- Why did you join the company? What has kept you here? This question can provide great insights about the organization and the values of the employees that work there.
- Why is this role open and what are the consequences of not filling the role? This question, which really cuts to the heart of the matter, will bring out whether there is a particular purpose for the role that you might fill and how important the role is to the organization.
- How would you describe the environment of the organization? This question can bring forth some helpful adjectives that may paint a picture of the organization’s goals and culture.
In any interview, you do not want to appear disinterested, unprepared, or unfocused. The way to avoid that is to ask probing questions. Asking probing questions, in fact, has the dual benefit of impressing the hiring manager while allowing you to gather good information to inform your decision on whether to accept a job offer. So, be sure to have some questions ready when you are preparing for that next interview. Without question, it will step up your interviewing game.