By Sjoerd Gehring
“Do you have any questions for us?”
You’ll be asked it in almost any interview. And while you may be tempted to sit back and relax during this portion—while the recruiter’s put in the hot seat—that’s not actually in your best interest.
Why? Because this is your final chance to make an awesome impression.
My team and I interview around 100,000 people a year so, as you can imagine, we always take notice when someone asks a question besides “What’s a typical day like?” or “When will I hear back from you?”
In fact, you shouldn’t be afraid to grill hiring managers during this portion of the conversation. Chances are, they’re hoping you will.
To help get you started, here are some of the super-smart questions I’ve been asked during actual interviews by real-life candidates–and the reasons they got my attention.
1. “Who Does the Wireframing for Your Site?”
OK, that’s clearly specific to a certain role. But I’m using this one as an example of a question you can ask that places you in the role you’ve applied for.
This question came from a prospective designer. We got talking about a new internal website we were developing and he asked, “Who does the wireframing for your website, the design team or a specific UX team?”
We ended up having a great discussion about our processes and how he could contribute to the development of the project. I remember thinking it was like we were already working together. And, from his perspective, he got a great insight into the way we work across teams and who has responsibility for what.
2. “Why Does This Role Matter to the Growth of the Company?”
Talk about putting the ball back in my court! This question showed me the candidate was interested in more than just what I thought of him then and there, in the interview. She wanted to make an impact beyond her own role or team and get a feel for how she’d fit into the future plans of the business.
And, from a candidate perspective, it’s a great way to help you see whether the role you’ve applied for will be a high or low-profile position. It also gives you an indication of what’s expected of the person who fills that role.
3. “Could I Meet Some of the People I’d Be Working With?”
I’ve been asked this a few times—especially more recently—and it’s a great question. (And one that we always try to accommodate.) It shows me the candidate understands the importance of cultural fit and team dynamics and that it matters to them. This is clearly not a person who wants to come to work, sit down at their desk every day, and work in a solitary bubble with their headphones on.
Plus, if you want to get a sense of whether you’ll enjoy being around the people you could be working with every day, this is the question you should ask.
4. “Why Has the Person in This Role Decided to Leave?” / “Who Had This Role Before?”
This can be a very revealing question! Why is the position you’ve applied for available? Is it because the previous person has been promoted or moved to a different team? Both of which would suggest that this job would set you up for progression.
Or, did the person leave to join another company? Or because they didn’t meet expectations? If the recruiter hesitates or becomes evasive, that could tell you everything you need to know! Equally, stay alert and if you sense it’s time to move the conversation on, gently change the subject to something else or ask a new question that’s easier to answer.
5. “What Do You Like Most About Working Here?”
I’ve only been asked this once, believe it or not. It was by a candidate who’d just finished giving a very competent response to the question, “Why do you want to work here?”
I loved the way she tossed this question right back at me. And, although it took me a few seconds to think how to respond, we ended up having a great conversation about how rewarding a career at J&J can be, both personally and professionally.
As a candidate, it’s the perfect question to catch the recruiter a little off-guard and get an honest answer. Regardless of what they say, you can probably gauge how they truly feel about their company, which gives you another indication of whether it’s the right fit for you.
6. “Do You Have Any Reservations About Me or My Qualifications?”
A seriously gutsy question! So gutsy that I was impressed by the confidence of the candidate who asked it. You might think you’re setting your self-esteem up for a knocking. But it’s actually very smart.
A question like this gives you the chance to address any concerns the recruiter may have about your fit for the role head-on, in person. In the instance I’m thinking of, the candidate was actually able to mitigate the concerns I had about a large, unexplained gap on his resume. It transpired he’d taken an unpaid sabbatical to care for his infant daughter while his wife went back to college.
Sure, it takes some gumption to ask. But why allow a potentially unfounded reservation turn into a reason to give someone else the job ahead of you?
7. “How Do You Deal With Professional Disagreements Within the Team? Can You Give Me an Example?”
Another question that shows a recruiter that they’re talking to a candidate who cares about team dynamics and understands that how a team works together can make or break the success of its projects.
For you as a candidate, it’s an incredibly useful way to find out whether you’ll be joining a team of ‘yes-men’ or whether respectful (emphasis on respectful!) disagreements are encouraged to ensure all avenues are explored and that company goals are put ahead of egos. Providing the interviewer answers honestly, it also gives you an indication of inter-team dynamics.
As a recruiter, I’ve heard a lot of awesome questions (such as these)—and some I bet the candidate regretted instantly! But, with a little preparation, there’s no need to feel anxious about this part of an interview.
The hiring manager knows you want to figure out if the role is right for you so they’ll be expecting questions. And by taking a couple of the examples above and modifying them to fit your own situation, I can almost guarantee you’re going to instigate some really valuable discussions that help you (both!) to make the right decision about the role.
This piece was originally published by The Muse.