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Do You Have Any Questions For Us?
The hardest interview question
It is that time of year when students are interviewing for their post-graduation jobs and for graduate programs. I have been spending a lot of time walking students through the process of interviewing. While most prepare to be interviewed, they rarely prepare to interview the hiring company. Remember, labor markets are two-sided markets. They are looking for an employee and you are looking for an employer, and you have choices too! So take that role seriously.
I have found that my most exciting interviews, as job searcher and as a hiring manager, are the ones that flow as a conversation. I am not a fan of interviews that sound like an interrogation. I have also found that most people interviewing from the hiring side, are bad at asking questions and creating a discussion. Your job is to shift the environment and you do that by asking questions back to the hiring manger. If you can’t ask questions throughout, then make sure to ask questions at the end. Here are some examples of questions you can ask during your interview that I have found helpful.
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1. If we were doing my performance review right now, what would I have done this year for you to say I excelled in my role? This question shows that you care about how you will be evaluated. It also allows you to narrow down what the manager cares about.
2. If I were to start this week, what are the first projects you would want me to work on? This question gives you an idea of the immediate priorities and it also allows the manager to see you as a team member.
3. What is the most pressing challenge you are facing as a company? This question allows you to learn more about the bigger challenges the company is facing.
4. What are some of the possible career trajectories after this role? This question allows you to signal that growth is important to you and it allows you to identify what is possible for you.
5. Why is this position open? This is my favorite question because it usually leads to a longer discussion about the firm’s strategy. It can also help answer question 4 above, especially if the person that previously held the position was promoted.
Which question will you use in your next interview? Do you have a question that you ask that I should include for my students in the future?