3 Completely Original Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

During the last few minutes of most standard interviews, reviewers typically wrap up their questions and ask candidates if they have anything they’d like to add or any questions they’d like to ask before the session comes to an end. They do this for two reasons:
  1. To give the candidate a chance to show off her sense of engagement and curiosity.
  2. To honestly let the candidate gather the information she needs in order to make a decision about the job.
At this point, weaker candidates say nothing at all and scuttle out the door (“Nope! Thanks and bye!”). Mediocre candidates launch verbatim into a set of scripted, clichéd questions handed to them by an advisor or career counselor (“Ahem. Question one: What makes this company great? Question two: In this position, will I have a chance to use my highly relevant skill sets?”).The strongest candidates (including you!) will ask questions that are real, genuine, and original. These three considerations can help you identify those questions and deliver them with honestly and style.1. Notice patterns from the start, then address them directly.Chances are, your interviewer will repeat certain words or themes more than once while she talks about the company and the job. Recognize those patterns and when the moment arises, bring them into the light. Here’s an example:“I noticed that several times you’ve used the word “ownership” to describe your company’s philosophy and the qualities you need in a candidate. This word means different things to different people. Can you clarify what it means to you?”2. Engage with the interviewer on a personal level.The interviewer will certainly ask you about yourself—who you are as a person, the working style and conditions you prefer, and the relevant details of your professional history. Within limits, feel free to turn this around. After all, this person may or may not be your boss in the future, so you might as well learn more about who you’re dealing with. Ask her how she ended up here and what she likes most about working for this company. Use what you already know. Here’s an example:“You mentioned earlier that you started working for this company immediately out of law school. I finished a year of pre-law at City University before I was hired by my first employer. Does your legal background help you connect with clients in this business?”3. Ask about the processes and systems you’ll be using every day if you’re hired.This may be the most relevant question you’ll ever ask in your life, and now is the time to bring it up. Here’s an example:“In my last position, we used a proprietary document management system that we developed in-house based on the needs of our clients. What format do you use to handle the high volume of documents you process each week?”

Keep Your Resume Close

As you sit down with your interviewer, offer her a copy of your resume whether she chooses to refer to it or not. Ideally, when the session ends, the reviewer will walk away with a clear impression based on your words, the questions you ask, and your personal presentation, and your resume will reinforce this memory as she compares your credentials with those of other candidates. Visit MyPerfectResume for tools that can help you showcase your best self.