If you’re going through a job search, you know how competitive the interview process can be. And you’d probably like to know some ways to increase your chances of beating out the competition for an offer. Here’s a proven interview hack I recently shared on Quora.
My Favorite Interview Hack
My favorite interview hack is winning the interview with the questions YOU ask! When I landed my first job out of grad school, I asked my interviewers what made them choose me from the other candidates. Their response: “The questions you asked. Your questions showed us not only how knowledgeable you are, but also how much you care about the population you’ll serve in this role.”
The Questions You Should Ask
So, what kind of questions should you ask? There are six categories of questions you should be asking in the interview (because interviewing is a two-way street!):
- Questions you need to have answered to determine fit/questions related to the organization’s culture. For example, “How do you foster an employee’s connection to the organization?”, “How do you motivate your employees?”, or even “Do employees typically eat lunch together or at their desks?” (this one will tell you a lot about the company culture!).
- Questions that come up in your research you conduct on the company. This will be specific to the company, and will show your genuine interest in the company. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, especially if they exhibit your ethics. For instance, in my interview, I wanted to know how one of the practices I would be required to carry out in the job wasn’t in direct violation of a federal law common to that industry. I think this was also the question that impressed them the most.
- Questions to determine future opportunities for advancement. For example, “What opportunities are available for advancement?” This shows you’re interested enough in the company to want to stay long-term.
- Questions to determine their hiring timeline. (Okay, these questions are really just for you and your own sanity.) When candidates go on interviews and then don’t hear anything back either way, they freak out. Yes, it’s stressful, and also rude of the company to keep you hanging. So, before you leave the interview, ask when they plan to make a hiring decision. Also, ask if they will be letting each of those being interviewed know the results, or just the one being offered the job. That way you won’t spend your time and energy fretting over what they decided.
Here’s where it gets good!
These last two types of questions you should ask are the real hacks!
- 5. Questions to show your initiative and to help them visualize you in the job. For instance, “What results would you like to see from me in the first 90 days of the job?”, “What will be the first projects I’ll be working on once hired?”, or “When we sit down to discuss my performance a year from now, what will success look like”? Wording questions this way helps them picture YOU as the person in the job!
- 6. Questions to get them to verbalize what they like about you. In #5, it was all about helping them visualize, now you need to get them to verbalize! You want them to convince YOU why they should hire you, which will in turn convince them to hire you. (Yeah, that undergraduate degree I got in psychology is really paying off here!) For example, “What part of my resume stands out to you the most?” or “What made you choose to interview me out of all the other applicants?”
You should always have questions of your own prepared for an interview because interviewing is a two-way street. When you’re asked, “What questions do you have for us?” never say, “None.” If so, you’re for sure to lose the job to someone who shows more interest with their questions.
More Interview Hacks
Want more interview hacks? Check out these other blog posts on interviewing. You can also improve your interview skills when you purchase the on-demand course Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety.