By Matt Lowney
As an interview wraps up, the interviewer usually asks the candidate if he or she has any additional questions. This innocuous question is met most regularly with “no”, because the candidate is uncomfortable and wants to get out of the interviewer's office as quickly as possible. However, by answering no to this question, what have you done to set yourself apart from other candidates? Nothing. And that's the point. Since most other candidates are not going to ask follow up questions either, this is a golden opportunity to demonstrate why you are the best choice for the position. But be careful.
Make sure you ask questions that reflect your research of the company, its products/ services, and competitors. This time is not for asking minute details about the company's health plan or about parking expenses. I usually recommend a candidate bring 10 questions to the interview that they would like answered. During the course of your interview most of these questions will be addressed, so bringing several with you will ensure you have a couple of extra questions at the end of the interview. Here are some categories of questions that might help you in your interview preparation.
Company Growth/ Stability. Questions regarding a company's projected growth and markets they are looking to enter can make for some great insight into a company. Asking about a company's stability can be a double-edged sword, because most interviewers are not going to tell you that their company is unstable financially. Perhaps a better way to approach a question about financial stability is to ask about where the company sees its in 3, 5 and 10 years down the road. The interviewer's answer to this question will also let you know a little about the company's corporate culture. Does upper level management share the company's vision for the future with all its employees? Or does the company maintain a culture that information is dispersed on a “need to know” basis?
Career Growth. Some of the best follow up questions I get from candidates regard career growth. What is the opportunity for growth? Do you have a formal training program that identifies and prepares the next generation of management? Would I need to relocate for advancement opportunities? Your willingness to ask these types of questions shows the interviewer that you are motivated and interested in a long-term career with the organization. However, some companies do not provide these types of programs or perhaps you are happy with the work life balance you have in your current role. In either case, make sure to ask questions that are reflective of these desires. This is what companies mean by “fit.” If the role a company is looking to fill does not allow for advancement opportunities, then they are going to be hesitant to hire a candidate that is looking to aggressively climb the corporate ladder. Instead, the interviewer is going to look for questions from a candidate that are geared towards excelling in the role they are interviewing for.
Matt Lowney is a corporate recruiter, radio host, and career consultant specializing in the areas of healthcare and information technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information about his services.