Saturday, 18 May 2013

Interview Preparation: Asking the interviewer questions

If you haven’t already please read my previous blog post about questions to ask the interviewer. 
This blog post follows on from my previous post Structure Your Preparation.

The first thing to remember about interviews is that the more specific and relevant questions you can ask, the better. For example, if you’re being interviewed for a marketing role then you might ask the interviewer about the target market. However, this isn’t about asking ‘who is your target audience?’ but instead, about the brand’s place in that market e.g. ‘what would you say is [magazine name] distinctive advantage in the industry?’ These types of specific and relevant questions will surely impress the interviewer and will enable you to think about the brand more. Be prepared for the interviewer to ask your opinion too.

It may trickier trying to think of specific and relevant questions if it’s not for a brand but for a role. For instance, my role at IPC Media is across various brands so I had to ask the interviewer a question that was relevant to the role itself. Through research, I discovered that the best PA’s were the ones that had strengths aligned with their bosses weaknesses. The majority of PA’s make their bosses life easier by being organised. However, instead of directly asking ‘what’s your weakness?’, instead you can make it a bit more thought provoking by asking - ‘how do you make the most of your current PA and what would you change in future?’.

I tend to prepare two questions for the interviewer and a third as a backup/alternative. Some questions are generic and can be used for multiple interviews. Personally, I really like ‘what is the difference between someone who will perform this job well, to someone who will perform exceptionally well?’ it can be used for any job role. Remember as your final question talk about next steps.

There are also questions that I prefer not to use. For example, asking how the interviewer felt the interview went. If I were an interviewer I’d probably answer either average, good or great but even with the great ones I’d always be tempted to pick holes in it afterwards. I think there is a certain element of ego in the question that I dislike. Anyway, if you agree with me or not, the chances are, if you do a great interview, you’ll get the job without having to ask a question like that.

Other times, you may be in an interview and you get some inspiration about a question you could ask the interviewer based on what has already been said. Go for it. I really like a two part questions, and by that I mean a question based on an observation ‘I noticed earlier you do you think that’s......’. So make sure you take some time to really think about what questions you are asking and what you need to ask to make a lasting impression!

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