Are You Blowing Your Biggest Opportunity in the Job Interview?

bad-interviewIn a job interview, the biggest opportunity you have to  set yourself apart from the competition is asking the right questions. Subconsciously or consciously, assumptions are made by those we speak with regarding our intellect, personal agenda and overall mind-set by the questions we ask and not as much by what we state. I have noticed that the smartest people I know are always asking questions and I am constantly amazed by the questions they ask.

Here Are the Top 5 Mistakes Made by Job Seekers When Asking Questions in the Interview

1. No questions. If an interviewee says, “No. No questions. I think you covered everything.” They might as well say, “Don’t hire me because I am not that interested in you, the job or the company.” As part of the interview preparation, the interviewee should make a list of 20 questions. By preparing a 20 questions list, there are plenty to ask after many are covered over the course of the interview conversation.

2. Questions just to impress. It is transparent when a candidate is asking questions just to impress the interviewer. Don’t make the mistake of digging up some random, obscure issue just to prove you did your homework. Ask real questions. A real question is anything you need to know in order to make an informed decision about whether this is a good move for your career. Real questions show you are serious; even if it might be about company competitors or negative press.

3. It’s on the website. If a job seeker asks a question they should already know because the information is online, it becomes a red flag that the candidate did not do very thorough research. Translation: He/she is either lazy, does not care or is incompetent at research.

4. Asking template questions. Inc. Magazine posted 5 Questions Great Job Candidates Ask. They were all great questions but if job seekers ask only questions that can apply to any company, it can backfire. Anytime an interviewer feels like the candidate is just asking questions out of a “how to interview” book, the interviewer will be less than impressed. The candidate that gets the job offer takes questions like, “What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?” and phrases them specifically for the company and job.

5. Failing to ask closing questions. I will hold back on the plethora of Glengarry Glen Ross soundbites that come to mind but a job seeker should never fail to ask the closing question.

Here Are the Top 3 Closing Questions

  1. Are there any remaining concerns you have about my ability to be successful in this role?
  2. What is one question you wanted to ask me but haven’t?
  3. I am very interested; what is the next step?

The reason that the questions the job seeker asks are weighted so heavily in the selection process is because interest, intelligence and, having done your homework on the company is hard to fake when asking questions.



Saundra Botts

Saundra Botts

Saundra is an ExecuNet Career Strategist and Career Coach. Working 1:1 with high-level senior executives, Saundra provides strategic guidance and coaching to help ExecuNet members land their next great opportunity. This includes uncovering their unique personal value proposition and defining competitive differentiators to advance their careers. Additionally, she provides detailed feedback for improving a personal marketing collateral—well beyond their résumé. Leveraging her expertise, Saundra guides executives through the entire process from entering the job market, which for most is their first time, identifying the path to success, to onboarding with their new company and beyond to create job security.

Saundra is known for “opening doors” and has also facilitated Job Search and Transition Workshops for universities, FENG (Financial Executive Networking Group), and various executive leadership groups. Her depth of experience includes has over 15 years in Retained Search and contingency placement within corporate accounting and finance sector with First Call Search, Dubin & Lee and WinterWyman Search. Saundra has consulted with clients, ranging from start-ups to multi-billion-dollar conglomerates. She has worked with $12 billion companies building accounting and finance teams, succession planning, and hiring, as well as filling key positions at many medium-sized, publicly-traded companies; non-profits; and universities in Boston, Miami and Los Angeles.

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