by Caroline Wilson
Vice President at Charles Aris Inc.
As you can imagine, I spend a large portion of my time as an executive recruiter interviewing candidates on behalf of my clients. In those conversations, my job is ultimately to determine whether candidates are optimal fits for specific roles – and whether they will make great impressions on my clients.
One of the ways in which top candidates differentiate themselves is by asking thoughtful questions. Not only are those conversations more engaging for me (since I’m usually the one asking the majority of the questions), they also tend to demonstrate the candidates’ degree of preparedness.
Asking genuine questions is also an excellent way to demonstrate interest in the opportunity.
At Charles Aris Inc., we know that as a candidate, you will be judged by the quality of the questions you ask just as much as the questions you answer. So this is a critical part of your preparation for interviews.
A few guidelines to keep in mind:
- Always write down or print out your questions and bring that list with you to the interview. Ten or so questions are advisable (that may be too many, but at least you won’t run out). When an interviewer asks whether you have any questions at the end of an interview, you never want to say, “All of my questions have been answered.” A lack of questions can give the impression that you are not engaged or all that interested in the role being discussed.
- Remember that it’s also perfectly acceptable to ask the same questions to multiple interviewers throughout the course of a visit. In fact, this can be helpful for you as you hear multiple viewpoints on the same topic.
- Make sure you take the interviewer’s background into account when you plan your questions for any corresponding interview. How long has that person been in the organization? What is her role, and what are her primary responsibilities? Ask questions which are relevant to that professional’s background.
- Always remember to do your homework on the organization, as this should drive some of your questions. Read every page of the company’s website, review the annual report, and check for recent press releases or independent coverage that might be in the news.
- Lastly, remember to ask questions which will help you evaluate the opportunity. What would you need to know about this organization to determine whether you would accept an offer?
The goal of a successful interview is to make a great impression on the interviewer, and one of the best ways to make that great impression last is to end the interview with strong questions. Since most interviews wrap up in this manner, it’s an excellent way to end the interview with a bang!