Interviewing the Employer: Wrapping up the Interview Dance with Questions
Interviewing is a complex process. Really, it is likened to dancing with a partner. With dancing, both partners have to know the right steps (answers to the questions) even though they are not always the same steps and having good chemistry with your partner (employer) is helpful. It takes practice to dance well, a lot of practice, as does interviewing. Being a good dancer also takes good form, rhythm, and finesse to make the moves look fluid and natural, especially when put to music. A good interview also has elements that make the interview itself “fluid and natural” for an employer. These elements include:
- candidate being dressed appropriately for the interview
- good eye contact and handshake
- prepared with a resume, other required documents, and interview questions
- confidence in yourself and your abilities and have a good attitude
- prepared questions from the candidate to the employer
- an after-the-interview thank you follow up
Today, we are going to discuss the part of the “dance” that the candidate facilitates – questions to employers from the candidate.
Not every interview is the same – recruiters, HR and hiring managers all have different approaches with interviewing. Some like the formal process in which they ask questions first, and then the candidate asks questions at the end of the interview. Others like more of a conversation style interview, where there is give and take between the candidate and the employer throughout the interview. Regardless of the style, you need to know when to ask questions and the kind of questions to ask during different interviews. Make sure the questions to the employer are logical and related to the job; this shows you have listened during the interview and can form intelligent follow up questions.
Usually, an interview is at minimum two steps – a phone/screening interview and then a more in-depth interview, sometimes face-to-face, though not always. During a phone/screening interview, the employer will typically ask some basic questions lasting approximately 20-30 minutes. At the end of this time, they will usually ask if you have questions for them. This is a suitable time to ask some basic follow up questions, including:
- What specific skills/attributes are you looking for in the candidate you want to hire for this position?
- I am very interested in this opportunity. What is the next step in this process?
If you are selected to move on to the next interview, you will have a longer interview and be asked questions that require more in-depth answers. This interview could be a panel or a one-on-one session. This could be the final interview, or you might have to interview again. Regardless of this step, you want to ask questions that clarify concerns or questions you might have about the position, ones that will allow you to reiterate your fit for the position and give you a chance to close the interview. Here are some examples:
- What will be the top priorities, or the first project, that will need attention for this position?
- What is a typical day like for this position?
- What are your expectations for this role, within the first 30 days (or 60 days, or a specified time frame)?
- Can you tell me about your training program?
- What is a typical career path for people starting in this position with your company?
- After meeting with me today, are there any reservations you have about my candidacy?
- How soon do you plan to make a final decision regarding this position? May I follow up with you?
- What would you share with a new employee about living in this area/working for this company?
In addition to these questions, you also want to ask a question or two that gives the recruiter an opportunity to share about themselves and their experiences, such as:
- What do you like best about working for ZYX company?
- What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
- What position did you start with at ZYX company, and how did you rise to your current position?
Typically, you will want to have written down a selection of 3-5 questions prior to the interview. Your questions could be answered during the interview, so you want to have a few spare questions available to ask. Also, you might think of additional questions from the interview that are more pertinent to making an informed decision on the company and position, than your originally planned questions. Be flexible during this time of the interview, since you might not have the time to ask all the questions you intend. However, do make sure at some point to ask the questions necessary to help you decide if this is the company/position for you, if offered the position.
Finally, you want to close the interview. Take into consideration the information they have shared with you and emphasize your interest in the position and why you are the candidate for the position. The closing can occur when you are done with questions or when the interview is coming to an end.
Questions for employers will vary based on the type of interview and position: internship/co-op, full-time position, professional, or part-time/pay-the-bills kind of job. However, asking a few questions at all interviews shows you are interested in the employer enough to ask about the company/position.
There are numerous websites and resources about questions to ask an employer. Check out the ERAU Career Services website for additional sample questions, along with other resources to assist in further career/job research preparation