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Interview Success by Asking the Right Questions

Often the greatest interview anxiety focuses on trying to anticipate all the correct answers to interview questions. Equally important, however, are the questions you ask the interviewer. If job interviews are getting you no closer to an offer, maybe you are not asking the right questions. 

There are three types of questions that help jobseekers gain interview advantage.
1. Questions to uncover the interviewer’s top hiring motives 
You’ll answer the interviewer’s questions better once you know his/her particular hiring concerns.
Here are examples of questions that will help you "get inside the head" of the interviewer:
  • What do you see as the toughest challenge of this position?
  • What qualities do you see as most important to be successful in this position?
  • Why have others failed to meet your expectations in this position?
Once you’ve asked any or all of the above questions, listen very closely. The first thing the interviewer says reveals his/her truest feelings. Use this information as insight for answering his/her questions to you.  After all, what is an interview but a sales presentation? Any salesperson will tell you that you cannot sell until you know what the buyer wants.
2. Questions that illustrate your interest and intelligence 
An intelligent question can impress an interviewer as much as knowledge about the company.
The best types of questions to showcase your intelligence and interest come out of your research of the company and industry. You may want to ask questions concerning:
  • Strategy for reaching a specific niche market
  • The company’s short and long-range goals
  • Territorial expansion plans
Some information may be deemed as proprietary or confidential. If you begin your inquiry with, "Can you tell me..." you give the interviewer an out if he/she cannot speak on the subject. Either way, you get the opportunity to impress the interviewer with your curiosity about corporate goals, budgets and strategic plans.
Remember, pre-interview research is the key to forming insightful questions. Never try to "wing your way" through an interview without finding out facts ahead of time. Some good sources for research include:
  • Online searches of the company’s name and key executives
  • Visiting the company’s web site and social media presence
  • Reviewing the company’s SEC filings
  • Press releases
3. Question to uncover the interviewer’s unspoken concerns.
As you sense your interview winding down, don’t forget to find out what issues or concerns the interviewer has concerning you as a qualified candidate or a good fit for the position and their organization.

Don’t make the assumption that the interviewer will volunteer his/her concern. The most straightforward way to find out is just to ask:
"Do you have any concerns that may prevent me from being considered as one of the top candidates for this position?
Once you’ve asked these questions, listen closely to how the interviewer responds. Pay attention to  body language as well. If the interviewer says "I have no concerns," while averting his/her eyes, it may be a sign that the interviewer does have concerns but is reluctant to state them. If so, you may ask:
"Are there other candidates who are being seriously considered for this position?"
Once the interviewer has stated his concerns, use the opportunity to answer with one of your previously thought  out success stories that illustrate your ability to meet or exceed his expectations.
If you’ve done your pre-interview homework and conducted a little role-play practice, using these three types  of questions in your next interview may help you reach your career objective faster.