I just had an interview at a company where I spoke to two different people. When it came time to the “do you have any questions for me” portion of the interview with the second person (the vice president of the company), I hesitated. I had already asked the first person, who would be my direct supervisor, all my questions about the position and about the company, and had been satisfied with her answers.
But I wasn’t sure if I should just repeat the same questions again to the VP. I thought they might compare notes and see that I had asked the two of them the exact same thing! In the end, I didn’t, saying that my questions had already been answered thoroughly by the first person. Looking back, it seems like a boneheaded move (especially since I didn’t get the job). How would you suggest I handle this situation next time I interview with multiple people?
By Brad Karsh and Courtney Pike
“Do YOU have any questions?” Finally, the interviewer has stopped spouting off questions, and he is curious to see what questions you may have. During the interview, the company is trying to get to know you, but you also are interviewing the company to see if it would be a good fit. Your questions are a great way to explore and see if it’s a nice match.
1. Have a couple questions – good questions. It doesn’t matter how many interviews you have at the same company or even with same person, you always want to have two or three (not fifteen) questions at the end of every interview. You should ask questions that will help you discover if this is the place where you want to be at least eight hours every day. Questions often fall into three camps: business-related, job-related, or personal. You should brainstorm a few before the interview. Here’s some samples to get your ideas flowing:
- How has you business been influenced by the shaky economy?
- How does someone advance in this company?
- Where do you see the company in ten years?
- Has the recent merger had an impact on customer service?
- How would you describe the corporate culture?
- What is the management style in this department?
- What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
- What makes someone successful at this company?
- How do you measure and determine success for this position?
- Why did you decide to join this company?
- What do you like most about working here?
- What is the most challenging thing about working here?
- If you could change one thing about the company, what would it be?
- What do you consider your company’s strengths and weaknesses?
You should always have a few “soft” questions in your back pocket, if you find your inquisitive nature going dry at the end of an interview. It’s nice to have personal questions that you can ask anyone in any department or at any level, and it’s OK to ask different interviewers the same personal questions.
You never want to ask obvious questions that you can find out from the job description or the web site such as “Who are your clients?” or “Where are your offices located?”
Also, don’t ask the salary question during the interview. You wait to ask those questions once you have received the job offer.
2. Pay attention to the answer and ask a follow up question. A great question and answer session and conversation at the end of your interview can leave a lasting impression.
3. Ask about next steps. You should always leave the interview knowing the company’s timeline or intentions.
- What are the next steps?
- What is your timeline?
- When can I expect to hear from you regarding next steps?
4. Say thank you and restate why you would be a great fit. As the interview draws to a close, you want to sum up everything:
“Thank you for taking the time to interview me. After hearing more about ABC Company, I know my drive and perspective would be a great fit here. I’ll look forward to hearing from you next week.”
By asking questions and following these steps, you show that you are curious and strongly interested in the position and the company.
Brad Karsh is President and Courtney Pike is Director of Communications at JobBound (http://www.jobbound.com), a company dedicated to helping job seekers with resume writing, interviewing, career coaching and landing that dream job. JobBound has been featured on CNN, The Dr. Phil Show and CNBC and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Fortune, The Chicago Tribune and many others. Author of Confessions of a Recruiting Director: The Insider’s Guide to Landing Your First Job (Prentice Hall Press), Brad is considered one of the nation’s leading expert on the job search.