Let’s face it—the search for a new job can be tough! I was just recently hired on as the Marketing Specialist at Birkman, and I can honestly say getting here was a very humbling journey. Over the course of five months, I applied to countless jobs that I knew I was more than qualified for, but ended up only hearing back from a handful.
With so much pressure on just landing the face-to-face interaction with a potential employer, it is crucial to find a way to stand out from the rest of the candidates during an interview.
One of the things that I found to be most effective was ending the interview with open-ended, insightful, and thought-provoking questions that helped to demonstrate my interest in the position, my ambition to succeed in the role, and the time I took to prepare for the interview.
Below you will find eight questions to ask in your next interview, including ones that helped me illustrate my value and ensure I would be a great fit here at Birkman.
1. What are the most important qualities needed to be successful in this role.
This question has the power to dive much deeper than the written job description and into the true nature of the role and company culture.
First, it provides you with information on what skills, competencies, and traits the organization finds valuable while also illustrating you are open to learning and adapting yourself to fulfill the role in the best way possible.
Second, this question has the ability to uncover any potential strengths and weaknesses of the company. For instance, if you're told the role requires a self-starter with plenty of initiative, it could indicate the position comes with a lack of guidance, yet an abundance of freedom. Likewise, if you are told the role would be best suited for someone who likes working in groups and values the opinions of others, it could indicate the company has an inclusive culture and strongly values the input of a team.
2. What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the position?
This straightforward inquiry can provide the basics on what a day in the life of this new role will entail. From there, you can better deduce what additional skills and strengths are required for success. It may also give you deeper insight into the ongoing duties of the role so you can better determine if the position is a right fit for you.
3. What are the top priorities for the person in this position over the first 90 days?
Not only does this question give you a solid understanding of what you would be expected to accomplish in the role over the first three months, it can also help you determine if the company’s expectations tend to be realistic. If you’re given an insurmountable list of goals that need to be achieved in a short amount of time, you may find they are not all achievable. This gives you the chance to assess your own strengths and weaknesses and determine if you see yourself being happy and successful in that position.
4. What are some challenges the person in this position will face?
This question may not have an exceptionally pretty answer, but it is an important one that will help you better prepare if things get tough. Challenges for management roles could include accomplishing goals with extremely limited resources or a very tight budget. Challenges in other positions could include odd hours, repetitive tasks, or dealing with irratic customers. No matter where a position falls in terms of rank, all come with their own set of challenges. Knowing what those challenges are ahead of time gives you the opportunity to weigh them against the positive aspects of the position and company.
5. Can you provide some examples of how I’ll be collaborating with management and others?
Collaboration with management can be an important factor for career development, but not every company may actively engage in it. Find out if you’ll be working with your superiors or simply taking orders from them. This can help you determine the type of environment you’ll be entering and if there’s ample opportunity for career development.
Learning more about how you’ll be working collaboratively with other team members can give you a sense of the strength of teams within the company. If team members meet once a week, regularly communicate on a teamwork app, and submit reports on individual and team progress, you may be in for a positive and strong team experience.
6. What is the usual career path for a person in this position?
While you’ve already gained a bit of insight on potential career development with your question about collaboration with management, you can dig deeper by specifically asking about the role’s typical career path. This question can help you find out if the organization promotes from within and how career development works within the company. This question will also demonstrate you have an interest in advancing and growing with the firm.
As a spinoff of this question, you could explore how the company invests in professional development and discuss what areas you hope to stretch yourself.
7. What do you enjoy most about working here?
While this question specifically asks about one aspect of your interviewer's job, it often uncovers additional information. You may find out how long he or she has been with company, get a sense of the culture, and determine the skills and qualities needed to excel in the position. This can particularly hold true if the interviewer answers the question by outlining how their values align with the company’s and by sharing the qualities and skills that have led to personal success.
This is also a great time for the interviewer to highlight company perks, a positive workplace environment, and a strong company culture. If the person is struggling to come up with a response, however, you may want to think hard and deep before hopping on board.
8. Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
Not only does this question illustrate you’re confident enough to discuss any of your weaknesses, but it likewise shows you’re open to coaching and guidance. Instead of trying to gloss over things like gaps in employment or lack of training or knowledge in a certain area, address the issues head-on with an explanation.
Leaving a Final Impression
Once the interview starts to wrap up, make sure you ask one final question before you leave—what happens next? Asking about the next steps in the interview process shows you’re eager to move forward in the process. It also gives you a timeline for decision making so you may follow up at an appropriate interval if needed.
It is important to remember that you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you. Ending the interview with thought provoking, insightful questions can help set you apart from the competition while also providing valuable insight into the company and culture.
Following up with these types of questions in my interview with Birkman helped get me to where I am today—in a postion that aligns with my specific skill set and working with a team that not only makes me feel comfortable, but provides me with the tools I need to be successful in my career.
Christina has a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and comes to Birkman with a wealth of creative talent. A true marketer at heart, she is passionate about the fine arts, music, and being creative. Originally from Chicago, Christina moved to Texas 2 years ago and has finally learned to adapt to the heat - well, almost! In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters, reading, and cooking.