It’s easy to sit and fret about the interview. Those people, in their fancy clothes and their clean chairs, forcing you to run the intellectual gauntlet all in the name of employment. And true, you should be boning up on your personal achievements and your risk taking and your examples where you saved a group of co-workers from that fire – but remember, this isn’t a one-way street.
At the end of every interview, after all the example-giving and the quick-fire know-how, there’s one thing you can guarantee. “So, do you have any questions for us?” they smile. And here, here is where you can out-perform the rest. Whilst other FOOLS might sit back, sweating slightly and quivering with relief that it’s all over, you finally get your turn. Because question time is rife with the opportunity to shine.
Without further ado, here are the five questions you should always ask your potential employers, the lucky dogs that they are.
1. “So, why do you like working here?”
First off, people like talking about themselves. That’s just a truth. Getting your potential employer to relax and speak positively and enthusiastically about his or her company is a sure-fire way to spark proper, warm conversation, rather than just a slightly stilted, professional back and forth. It also makes you seem genuinely interested in them as an individual, which generally speaking, people respond well to.
And hell, you need to get the dirt on this company. If they can’t muster enthusiasm, the likelihood is you won’t be able to either.
2. “Are there opportunities for professional training or official qualifications?”
Oh hello, I believe that’s what they call the old switcheroo. Because dammit, you’re not the only one who has to come across well here. Sure, you want to be offered the job – no-one likes rejection, after all – but it’s important to keep in mind what exactly the job can offer you, too.
You want to make sure that this company is a place that cares about the personal development of its team, and this question is the perfect way to get this across. It also highlights the fact that you are ambitious and always wanting to improve. Which is nice.
3. “What does a typical day at [place of work] look like?”
It’s almost impossible to get a sense of a company without spending a bit of time in it – so this question tries to plug at least a few of the gaps. When your interviewing overlord is answering, look out for key indicators that might give a clue as to how this company runs – morning meetings to discuss the work ahead are a good sign, as is a healthy mix of solitary work and projects involving a few different people.
Zero structure whatsoever is usually a warning of a haphazard way of working – but heck, that might be your bag. It ultimately comes down to how you like to work, so if it all sounds good to you then shut us up.
4. “I saw that you did [cunning researched thing] recently, how did affect [cunning researched metric]?”
OK, we’ll admit it, this is a secret question. This is the question that you ask not because you really care about the answer (though hopefully you do), but because you want to say the words “I AM THE LORD OF RESEARCH. GAZE UPON ME AND WEEP YOUR ADMIRING TEARS.” It’s the question that you came up with when googling their company, studying their recent projects and checking out their surrounding market. The question that is equal parts insightful, respectful, enthusiastic and ever so slightly nerdy.
In all honesty, it’s not a question, it’s an answer. And the answer is “yes, I really am THIS smart.”
5. “Are there any opportunities for travel/networking/flextime/company boat hire[whatever it is that lights your curiosity fires]?”
Because at the end of the day, this is your life. Before you sign on any dotted line, you need to make sure that you get to do whatever it is you love, ensure that your deal-breaker is being taken care of.
Don’t be afraid of asking the big questions – the worst they can say is “sorry, but no”, and it’s much better that you know now, rather than 6 months in.
The only other thing to keep in mind is that five ish questions is about right, in terms of time. These people have things to do, people to see, delicious office cappuccinos to drink. Make an impact, but be succinct. If they’re having THAT good a time talking to you, they’ll certainly ask you back.