What You Need to Know About Asking Questions During a Job Interview

Asking Questions During a Job Interview

As much of the younger generation and several peers of mine are beginning to pursue their career paths, I find–when they’re seeking advice–they most often ask me for interview tips.

Many times, individuals are not coached on the interview process unless they go out of their way to seek out information and direction. And most, surprisingly, don’t know that a key part of an interview is preparing their own questions to ask the interviewer.

Ask the Right Questions

Asking a combination of questions that address both the interviewer and the position does two things:

  1. It gets the interviewer talking about themselves. Traditionally, when people think of an interview, they think they’ll be the one doing the bulk of the talking when answering questions. In reality, it should be quite the opposite. Asking direct questions about the person interviewing you–how they got into their position, what they enjoy about the company, strengths, weaknesses, etc.–stops the interview from being one-sided and turns it into more of a conversation. People, like your interviewer, want to feel like you’re genuinely interested in them and enjoy expressing themselves, too. If you’re able to get your interviewer talking or conversing with you, it’s always a big bonus.
  2. It shows you’re genuinely interested in how to best fulfill the position you’re applying for, and if you ask specific questions tied to the company AND the position, it shows you care and have done your research. Both elements, sadly, are generally going above and beyond in today’s professional world. It’s amazing how much further it will get you to sit down and do a few minutes of research beforehand on the company’s website to bring into the conversation and questions during the interview.

In today’s career world, it seems that although your resume may be what initially gets your foot in the door, once you’re in for an interview, it becomes less about what’s on paper and more about how you present yourself. After an interview if and when (because there will always be rejection, and that’s okay) you don’t get a position, it often has less to do with your lack of experience and qualification and more to do with who was the most prepared and which person left the best overall impression.

Think about it this way: If the company didn’t think you were qualified, they wouldn’t have called you in for an interview in the first place. At that point, you know you have what they’re looking for; you just have to figure out how to present yourself better than everyone else. 

Getting the position you want can easily be the difference between…

“What are you looking for in this position?”

and

“I noticed ____, ____ and ____ are some of [Company’s Name]’s highest priorities and am curious: what aspects of this position would you like highlighted to improve and support these priorities?”

You see what I did there? If not, it’s simple. Go to just about any company’s “about” page, find the top values or services they offer up on that webpage and fill in the blanks. Incorporate specific info about the company and your position into your questions, and you’ll be much harder to forget. It’s so easy, it shows effort, and I guarantee it will put you above the majority interviewees.

Another key tip when presenting questions is to avoid speaking in “ifs” and “maybes” and use intros like “when working with” and “as the next [position title]” to psychologically take doubt out of the equation completely. In other words, stop using phrases that could go either way and start using phrases that make it seem you are the person that will be in this position in the future. 

Getting the position you want can also be the difference between…

“If I were on the creative team, what are the biggest trouble-spots you’re hoping the person in this position might help with?”

and

“When working with you on the creative team, what are the biggest trouble-spots you’re looking for me to help with?”

Notice that the first question is presented in a very wishy, washy and doubtful manner in comparison to the second which puts a very clear, confident picture in the interviewer’s mind and leaves no room for interpretation.

So, what questions should I ask?

This is a tough one because if you’re truly going into an interview with a strong set of questions, your best ones are going to be unique to the company and position you’re applying for.

However, there are some general questions that are always great to include…

  1. In order to hire the next [position title], what, specifically, are you looking for?
  2. Where do you see the [position title] in five years? Ten years?
  3. When taking a look at your competition like [drop a couple competitors’ companies], what sets you apart and what are you looking to improve?
  4. How did you end up as a part of [Company Name]?
  5. What do you enjoy most about being [interviewer position title]?

And the question I always end an interview with or ask before I leave is…

6. When can I expect to hear from you next?

This is because: A. It prevents you from ending up in the awkward position of constantly questioning when you’re going to hear back and when it’s okay to follow-up. This way you know, if the interviewer said “within two weeks” and it’s been two weeks, you can confidently email them following up on the position. B. It also forces the interviewer to decide upon a time frame and possibly hold themselves accountable–if they hadn’t already.

Some more great questions to consider, from the managers’ mouths, can be found in this Mashable article: The Questions Managers Want You to Ask During a Job Interview

12 Dos and Don’ts to Make Your Blog Legitimate

12 Dos and Don'ts to Make Your Blog Legit #HE

The Difference Between Good Enough and Great

It’s easy to let little details slip by without caring, or sometimes without even noticing. But perfecting the things that most people don’t take the time to do or learn about is ultimately what gets an individual ahead of everyone else.

Don’ts

Pop-ups. They can be okay for a short period of time if you’re really trying to promote something major, but not permanently. And if you are going to have a temporary pop-up, wait 20-30 seconds before having it pop-up on your reader so they can at least get into your blog before being bombarded.

When I go to a site and the first thing that I see is a pop-up before I even have the chance to view the landing page, my next move is often times just to exit out of the page completely. This is because 1. I’m annoyed and 2. You haven’t even given me the chance to see your website yet before you’re asking me for something–I have no reason to stay.

Captchas. I understand if you’re a legitimate website, and even if you’re not, you’re probably going to get spammers, but the large majority of web hosts have some sort of spam filter in place already. Captchas are often frustrating to readers because they don’t work correctly a large percentage of the time, which makes commenting really difficult. On top of that, in several instances, captcha won’t work correctly with a smartphone or mobile device, which is a major problem when 80% of consumers now use smartphones to surf the web. Another flaw is that some captchas require the reader to scroll back down to the bottom of your page and press “comment” a second time; while a lot of times, people don’t realize that, which means you’re losing comments and engagement.

More times than not, when I’m trying to comment from my phone on a blog that has captcha, something goes wrong with it, which frustrates me enough to not even comment anymore.

Too many ads. I understand we all want to get paid, but at the cost of losing readers, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Without a solid following, no one’s going to want to advertise with you. So, it’s important to find a good balance, advertise things that make sense with your blog and have a layout that keeps everything from looking too busy and cluttered.

Let me put it to you this way: if t.v. shows were 3 minutes of show and 10 minutes of advertisement, I wouldn’t watch. Unless it was Game of Thrones, and then, maybe, I’d consider it. 

Too many sponsored posts. A good, general rule of thumb is to have no more than 1 sponsored post for every–at least–3 unsponsored posts. Otherwise, your blog just begins to feel like a giant sales pitch.

A handful of blogs I enjoyed have gained traction and when they started receiving more offers, the sponsored posts began to take over. When that happens, I generally become uninterested and stop following or checking up on the blog. 

Inconsistency. This primarily includes fonts, image sizes and colors. Keep all of these consistent. I’m not saying don’t add variety, but there can be variety in the consistency. For example, if you like changing up fonts, use a specific font for your header, a different font for subheadings and another for main text. Same goes for images–if you don’t want to stick with just one uniform image size, at least have image layouts and sizes that you stick to or alternate between throughout your blog.

When a post starts in one font and ends in another or has images scattered throughout without any sort of consistency, it’s really just displeasing to the eye and often makes me feel like the blog isn’t good or professional–even though it really has nothing to do with the actual content.

Going overboard with design. You know the person who puts stripes with polka dots, and hearts and circles and rainbows and really anything they see. It’s too much. Having too many things going on at once can really hurt a blog’s appearance. Pick a few key elements, designs, colors and stick with them. Don’t go with something so crazy that it completely distracts from what you’re trying to do.

When I go to a blog, for example, with a really crazy, ridiculous font or colors everywhere, it distracts me from what I’m trying to read, and I can’t focus on anything else except trying to figure out why all these words are in this unreadable post.

Dos

Have a .com. Or .org or .net. Just avoid having, for example, name.wordpress.com or name.squarespace.com. Basically, I’m telling you that you need to purchase your domain name. I know, *sigh*, spending money sucks, but honestly, it’s the number one step to legitimatizing your blog. Are there some blogs that are doing okay and haven’t purchased their own domain name? Yes, but they generally can’t do much of their own design on their actual site pages, it’s difficult to advertise, and you’re not going to get near as many people who want to work with your blog simply because it doesn’t appear that you’ve gotten serious about your blog to have enough legitimacy to purchase your own domain name.

A consistent image or logo across your blog and all your social media platforms. In other words (or–er–word), branding. You want a primary, go-to image that people will see every time they visit your blog and SM sites. It’s cool, it gives people something to associate with you specifically, and if they happen to stumble across it somewhere else, they know exactly whose it is and where it’s from. Exploding fist<recognition<branding.

Make sure your site, design and images appear correctly across all devices, whether that be mobile or computer. Cross-device usage is now–67% of users move between devices while online. People switch from their phone to their laptop to their tablet without blinking an eye, and if your website isn’t accessible or viewable across all devices, people are going to get frustrated and stop viewing it.

Consistent fonts and sizes + quality images. Being consistent is talked about above, but it’s worth mentioning again because so many people overlook it and don’t think it’s a big deal. Basically what it boils down to is appearing professional or appearing unprofessional. Every single one of our blogs is interviewing for each reader that stops by, and if you’re the interviewer, I’m willing to bet you choose the person who comes in a pantsuit over the person who shows up in ripped jeans and a halter type every time. Beyond consistency, it’s SO important to have quality, especially with images. If you don’t have the time or skill to design a quality image, it’s unbelievably easy (and free) to find them, meaning there’s no excuse! Olyvia.co is my favorite go-to for a spectacular list of free, quality stock photo sites.

Make your site easy to maneuver. Whether that be searching for something, sharing a post or seeing your other platforms. If people have to spend more than a few seconds searching for something, more often than not they give up or get distracted and move on.

Maintain a theme. Or something recurring that’s unique to you. For readers, it’s nice and it’s clever to see some sort personal touch that remains present throughout your blog. It’s kind of a level-up for people to be able to associate something specific with you.

Ultimately, if you’re blogging professionally or even just to gain a personal following, your blog is your business. Represent and treat it as such. Put the extra time and effort in to perfect your blog and take it above and beyond, because truly, people will notice and often remember their first impression upon entering your website.

EDIT:

Bonus Tip

When linking to other sites, make sure your link is set to open in a separate tab. If your links don’t open in separate tabs, it makes it easy for readers to lose your page if they’re trying to view your links while reading through, or it allows readers to get distracted by your link and forget to come back to your page.