Please hold all questions until the end.
Though you might hear this during a presentation, it shouldn’t happen in a job interview.
Welcome to the fifth and final installment of Ragan Communications Chief Marketing Officer Mandy Zaransky’s top tips for a successful interview.
If you’ve been following along, you know that preparation is crucial to interview success. Aside from researching the organization and those who will be conducting the interview, you should prepare questions to ask in the interview.
Curiosity is not a bad thing; it can be a huge strength. Questions provide verbal cues that show the interviewer you’re paying attention. They’re also the perfect opportunity for you to position yourself as the ideal candidate.
Timing is crucial, though; don’t wait until the conclusion to ask all your questions.
“It’s important to ask questions throughout the entire interview, not just at the end,” says Zaransky. “By asking relevant questions, you can set yourself up to show the interviewer you’re able to do something in the position, based on a task, or tasks, they’ve mentioned. This gives you the chance to explain why you’re a good fit.”
She offers the following example:
Interviewee: You mentioned that this role is available because of a promotion. Why was the last person in this role hired? What made them stand out? What do you want your ideal candidate for the role to have that would be a complement or an addition to the skills that are already on the team?
Ask this string of questions in the first quarter of the interview. The interviewer’s response will help inform you how to provide examples throughout the interview.
You want the interviewer to view you early on as a strong candidate, and asking questions helps you showcase how your strengths would fit with the role.
Asking questions also helps you steer the conversation. Not only does it position you as a strong, memorable candidate, it can also help you decide whether the job is a good fit for you.
Remember, too, that there is always time set aside at the end for any questions you might have. Don’t confuse this for a polite request; you’d better have a few questions left in your arsenal. Silence might be golden, but it leaves an unfavorable last—and lasting—impression.
In her piece “32 brilliant questions to ask at the end of every job interview,” Business Insider associate careers editor Rachel Gillett discusses the best interview questions to ask, gleaned from a number of executives.
In the piece, Talent Zoo president Amy Hoover also offers the negatives of not responding when asked whether you have questions:
“It’s expected — and if you don’t ask at least two questions, you will appear disinterested or, worse, less intelligent and engaged than a prospective employer would like.”
Zaransky says there is one final question you should always ask in an interview: “What are you looking for in this position that you don’t see in my candidacy?”
This quintessential closing question sets up one of two responses.
You could hear something along the lines of, “You have everything we’re looking for.” It might not be that cut and dried, but you should get a sense of whether that’s what they’re trying to say.
You might also get a response something along the lines of “You need to do X,” or “We are looking for someone who has more experience in X area.”
This response, though it might not seem as positive as the first, can still help set you up for success. It allows you the opportunity to address their concern with examples on the spot and ease their reluctance. If nothing else, it lets you know what you need to work on before your next interview.
[FREE DOWNLOAD: Keep your cool in a crisis with these 13 tips]
Do you have your questions prepared to showcase your communications prowess? Del Monte Foods seeks a manager of corporate communications in Walnut Creek, California.
It summarizes the position:
The Manager, Corporate Communications contributes to the development, management and execution of Del Monte’s corporate communications strategy and general initiatives. This position is focused approximately 80% on internal communications and 20% on external communications/corporate marketing. This position interacts primarily internally with senior leadership, across all business units for the Company and parent Company, resulting in broad exposure to all aspects of a consumer packaged foods company.
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