8 Intelligent Questions to Ask During an Interview

31 Dec 2018 Posted in ⟨For Learners⟩

Job interviews aren’t just about answering a set of questions that are fired at you from a panel of interviewers – they’re also the perfect opportunity to ask some questions of your own!

According to Jacquelyn Smith, author of Find And Keep Your Dream Job, “you should be interviewing the employer just as much as they’re interviewing you.”

Asking questions in an interview develops rapport, demonstrates your knowledge and shows that you are interested in the position, the organisation and your career. Amy Hoover, president of recruitment portal TalentZoo, also goes as far as saying that the questions you ask can “make or break an interview.”

So the next time that you’re asked whether you have any questions, don’t get caught staring back with a blank face. Take your interviewers by surprise and bring out a few of these questions!

1. What does a typical day in this role look like?

Although job descriptions explicitly lay out roles and responsibilities, they don’t actually communicate what your daily schedule will look like. What will you really be doing from the moment that you enter the office till the moment that you check out? How much time will you be spending inside meeting rooms or outside meeting clients? And given that Singaporeans work the second longest hours in the world, what time will you actually be leaving the office?

2. What training and development opportunities do you offer?

No matter if you are applying for a graduate, mid-level or senior role, a big factor of whether the job that you are interviewing for is right for you or not is the potential that you can develop your skills. While most companies offer some form of training, Lim Zhi Rong, the Regional HR Business Partner of Unilever Singapore, points out that it is also important to find out how much “HR attention” the company offers. Will they just send you off for a workshop in the hope that you will learn something or will they pay close attention to your development? The more serious your employer is about investing in your talents, the more you are likely to grow.

3. What’s the difference between a “good” and “outstanding” performance?

Interviewers love this question as they are always looking to hire A-players on their team. In a world where many are content on fulfilling the bare minimum of requirements, asking this question indicates that you have initiative and the desire to go beyond what is asked. As Larry Page, the co-founder of Google once said, “always deliver more than expected.” Use your interviewer’s answers to get an understanding of what is “good” so that you can then find a way to surpass it.

4. Who will I be reporting to?

A survey of 7,200 adults conducted by Gallup found that half of their participants left their job to “get away from their manager,” thus reverberating the idea that people leave managers, not companies. Rather than finding out who you will be reporting to on day one, ask your interviewers who will be your boss, then conduct as much research on them as you can. What does their work history look like? Are they an experienced professional who will be able to help you improve in your field of work? Work for the right people, not just the right positions.

5. Who will I be working with?

We all work better under different conditions and environments, so it is important that your next employer is able to offer something that will bring out the best in you. If you are looking for autonomy, then working on your own may suit you better. However, if you are looking for career growth, then you will want to surround yourself with talented and passionate individuals to help you accelerate your learning curve and produce greater quality work.

6. How will my performance be assessed?

Asking about performance criteria before you’ve even gotten the job may seem a little early, but it serves two purposes. Firstly, it will give you an indication of what the company values. For example, if an employee is assessed purely on the numbers, then it may indicate that the company places less value on ethics. Secondly, finding out your performance criteria will give you an idea of how realistic a promotion in the near future will be and will come in handy when the time comes for appraisals.

7. What type of challenges do you expect the department to face during the coming year?

Where a team member is leaving or the business is expanding, companies hire people for a reason. The problem is that too many people walk into a job without knowing “why” a company is hiring, which often leads to a surprise when they finally find out. Don’t wait till it’s too late. Find out what’s coming up for the company and the team that you will be working with.

8. How did you start at this company and what made you stay?

Everyone has a story and there is a lot that we can learn from listening to them. Taking a genuine interest in how your interviewer got to where they are today will help you to generate rapport with them and find out what really makes the company great to work for, while gaining access to a blueprint of how you may be able to progress in your own career.


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