How can you stand out in your next interview? The basics of researching the company, knowing the role’s outline, having your CV ready, and being prepared to answer questions thoughtfully will only get you so far. Leverage the Q&A portion of the interview to wow a potential employer with your curiosity and preparedness.
Do you have any questions for me? The sign your interview is wrapping up and also a crucial point where you can drop the ball. You probably already know that not asking any questions indirectly tells the interviewer you didn’t prepare or aren’t interested, but did you know asking the boring generic questions, they’ve heard for the umpteenth time, isn’t much of an improvement?
Asking the same question as everyone else signals that you didn’t really think through the position you’d be taking on and that you’re not a unique must-hire candidate. It won’t leave the positive lasting impression you’d hoped for - so what should you ask?
We asked interview experts Martyn Bassett Associates what they would recommend. As a product management-focused recruitment firm in business for over 20 years, they’ve prepped thousands of candidates for job interviews. We asked a couple of their Recruiters to find out how candidates can level up commonly asked questions - here’s what they had to say:
Instead of asking why the position is open, ask: What has prevented you from making a hiring decision so far?
This revised question allows employers to provide greater context and insights into their decision-making process. It helps you understand any challenges or obstacles they have encountered in the hiring process. By learning about their decision-making approach and potential roadblocks, you can assess if their values and approaches align with yours.
Instead of asking what this position would look like, ask: How does this role contribute to the overall growth of the company?
Asking about the position's contribution to the company's growth and goals provides a deeper understanding of the company's long-term vision and the impact of your role. It goes beyond the tasks outlined in the job description and allows you to learn about the company's strategic plans and how they envision your role in achieving those goals.
Instead of asking what success looks like, ask: What are the most important things you'd like to see me accomplish in the first 30-90 days of employment?
This question demonstrates confidence and a performance-oriented mindset. It shows your interviewer that you are focused on delivering results and making an immediate impact. By asking about the role's priorities within the first few months, you gain a better understanding of the expectations and responsibilities beyond what was stated in the job description.
Instead of asking a tech startup about the exit strategy, ask: What business strategy are you focusing on to grow, and is the ultimate objective (IPO, to be acquired, or to remain independent)?
This question reflects a thoughtful desire to gain insight into the company's long-term goals and direction. It shows that you are interested in understanding their growth strategy and the potential outcomes they are aiming for. By asking about their ultimate objectives, such as going public, being acquired, or remaining independent, you better understand their plans and can better evaluate how they align with your career aspirations.
Instead of asking about the company culture, ask about specific cultural aspects that will impact your day-to-day life.
Rather than asking a generic question about culture, focus on specific aspects that directly affect your work experience. (I.e., How many meetings does the typical Insert Your Role Here attend in a typical day/week? How long have my team members been with the company on average? What is your sprint/release cadence?)
These questions will glean insights into the daily work environment and team dynamics going beyond the generic happy hours or company values summary. These targeted questions help you assess if the company's culture aligns with your preferences and working style, allowing you to make a more informed decision about the role.
We hope these questions inspire you to get creative and come up with questions that will wow your potential employer and help you secure your next role.
If you’re looking for more interview questions and preparation tips, visit the Martyn Bassett Associates’ blog!