You managed to get an interview with a company you have had your eye on for some time. The hour is wrapping up on your initial interview with the hiring manager. Things have gone well and you are hoping to be invited back – and then it comes.
“Do you have any questions for me?”
This can be a very specific and calculated question or it can be a sign that the interviewer is merely looking for a way to wrap things up. Either way it provides you with an opportunity to end the meeting with momentum on your side. And if the interview has not gone well to that point it can be your chance to turn things around as well.
Because you did such a good job preparing for your interview – you should already have a strong understanding of what the company does and the challenges they face. Having a great question or two in mind heading into the interview will help you highlight your skills and experience again – and hopefully separate you from the field of candidates.
Questions like “What are the future goals of the company/department?” “How would you describe the company culture?” “What is the typical work week for someone in this role?” and “What is the most important thing I could accomplish in my first 90 days in this job?” are popular. I suspect the answers to many of them will come up in the course of your interview though.
A good, general question in the area of your skillset is a better way and keeps the focus on your qualifications. Presuming you are a project manager you might ask “What kind of process do you have in place for project governance?” Or you may ask how highly they value the PMP and why or why not.
Avoid general questions about what the company does – show them you did research by asking about a project or product they have delivered recently. What challenges did they have in your area of expertise with the delivery? You can expand on your experience and how it may help them avoid these issues in the future.
It should probably go without saying – but this is typically not the time to discuss or ask questions about comp, vacation, etc. Your goal is to get them interested enough to move forward in the process. The compensation discussion will come. You are selling yourself at this point.
But what if you want more? What if you want to be a bit different?
- “Do you have any concerns or questions about my ability to perform this role?” This is straightforward – and a particularly good question if you think the interview did not go well. If the interviewer opens up about their concerns this is your chance to change their mind. If they don’t then you have a choice. Do you attack the things you felt did not go well in an effort to repair – or do you let it go and hope you were being overly critical of your performance.
- A variant of the previous question is “Have any of my answers today been off target with what you hope to hear from the perfect candidate?” Again, the goal is to get you a chance to address any concerns and keep you in the process.
No matter what approach you choose, ask a question that can ultimately give you a chance to highlight your skills and experience again. Take an element of what you have learned about the role in the interview and frame a question about a project or challenge they have. Before the interview even starts have an idea of the key points you want to cover in summary in mind.
After you have asked your question you should have one more ready to go. Let your interviewer know you are very interested in the role based on the discussion and ask what the next steps in the process are. Ask what the timeline for hiring will look like and with whom and when you should follow up. This will clearly establish expectations on both sides – and might be the most important question you can ask!