by Simon Lythgoe
Nobody's doubting that practicing responses and role-playing job interviews isn't a great way to prepare for your next interview. Reading the job posting or job specification and knowing as much as you can about the organisation is key. Equally knowing your CV and Linkedin profile back to front is crucial and you should prepare to be able to discuss the smallest details of your past jobs. All of this is the right approach, but don't forget the one question almost every interviewer is going to ask you, “Do you have any questions for me?”
If you’ve focused all of your energy on preparing your rolodex of responses to every standard recruitment answer, you might miss a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd with some smart questions for you interviewer and here's why that matters:
It underlines that you've not only prepared, but you've really thought about the things you've read and you aren't just regurgitating recent company news from the website or the mission statement, instead you're delving into the subject, or asking about trends in their industry, this is a chance to demonstrate that your analytical skills (always important) and that you're serious about the opportunity.
A job interview is a two-way street, and it's important to learn as much about the company you're potentially joining as you can. The companies Marketing will only show you so much and asking pointed questions to a human being can be far more revealing and give you a chance to see if the job and organisation is the right fit for you. Questions such as; "What challenges should you expect if you’re selected for the job?" and "How does the company measure success for the position you’re applying for?" "Ask the interviewer what they like about working at the company?"
Use questions as an opportunity to engage your interviewer and build rapport. Hiring Managers get hundreds of CVs across their desks and they tend to blur into one making it difficult to recall who's who. Your interview is the one chance to be seen as a person in the process, use the time wisely. Simply sitting responding to the same questions the interviewer has asked 15 other people that same day, might not achieve that, but asking questions shifts the dynamic, and can make it feel more like a conversation between two people rather than a performance-based test.
Knowing the right questions will come down to the job you're applying for and although you need to prepare, make sure you're flexible to the conversation and that you think on your feet, don't go shoe-horning questions in which have been covered and don't fit. At least in the first interview, it's wise to keep the questions about the role and the company and away from “what’s in it for me” type questions (salary, vacation, benefits, etc) and instead, focus on showing your interest in the company and understanding of the role.