Candidates are often so focused on getting the job for which they have applied they often forget that an interview is a dialogue not a monologue. In fact, it is an opportunity for both employer AND candidate to learn about one another.
Traditionally, the employer presentation comes first, but time is usually allowed for the applicant to present his credentials and ask specific questions about the position or about the company.
This being said, what are ‘good’ interview questions to ask? One would be “Can you describe for me a ‘typical’ day on the job?” The answer would hopefully provide a candidate with some degree of insight as to what he may realistically expect. A second productive question would be “What is the most valued trait or characteristic that you would like to see in an employee? The answer should reveal what the employer most highly values and you will have an opportunity to discuss the ways in which you can make a contribution to the company.
‘How long have you been with the company and what is your background?” is another excellent question as it enables the applicant to garner some insight into the career path of the employer. If he/she has been on the job for a number of years, this is generally good and it may be a sign of stability in the corporate culture. By asking the interviewer about him/herself, a candidate can often begin to create a better rapport.
Other questions an interviewee should consider asking are as follows:
–Do staff members have an opportunity to become involved in the company’s future business direction? Are employee comments welcomed?
–How would you describe your management style?
–What would you say is your greatest advantage in the marketplace?
-What would you like to see happen in the future for this department and how might I be instrumental in this process?
–What would be a logical career path for an employee who stays with this company?
–What would enable an employee to be considered for a promotion?
Remember that your goal should be to foster as good a rapport as you can with your interviewer. It has been said repeatedly that people hire those who are like themselves. Therefore, if you tend to be sociable and talkative, and end up with someone who is taciturn and introverted, don’t worry: just concentrate on tailoring your style to be less verbose and answer the questions succinctly.
On the other hand, if your personality tends to be more reserved, and your interviewer is bouncing enthusiastically off the walls, you’ll have to make a real effort to ‘mirror’ this enthusiasm. Otherwise, you may not even be considered for the position.
Interviewing is hardly an exact science. The success of an interview can depend on many things—not the least of which is how you approach your interlocutor, and how he/she feels at the time. There are obviously a whole host of events that can interfere with the success of an interview. Your best bet is to try to maintain a pleasant and sociable demeanor, listening carefully to the questions you are asked and answering them as best you can.
You may find it helpful to have an index card highlighting the areas you most wish to emphasize when given a chance to do so. That way, you won’t forget to cover the really important project you worked on, or the fact that your efforts in re-tooling the database saved your company $500,000 in the first year.
Bottom line: being polite, professional and personable will go a long way towards assuring that you will get called back for a second interview!