On the sixth day of Careers-mas, Gary gave to me… six questions to ask at an interview!
Q1: What is the main function of the department that I will be working in?
A1: This is an example of a question that you shouldn’t ask! It is the sort of question where you could easily have found the answer on the website or other literature about the organisation. Questions like these show that you haven’t done much research into what the organisation does nor how it operates, implying a lack of interest.
Q2: I see on your website that you work with employees to develop individual training and
development plans. Could you tell me more about what training and development I might expect to help me progress in the organisation?
A2: This is a good question as it shows that you are keen, have plans to stay in the job and are interested in moving up in the organisation. It is also phrased in such a way as to show that you have read the organisation website and would now like to find out more details, which probably couldn’t be found elsewhere in their literature.
Q3: What sort of opportunities are there for me to gain relevant work experience whilst I am
A3: This shows that you are motivated and keen to develop relevant skills during your studies. However, do your research and check out the department’s and/or Careers Service website beforehand as the information may already be there.
Q4: What salary, pension and other benefits may I expect to be offered by your organisation?
A4: Although this is a valid question, the end of an interview is the wrong time to be asking it. Bringing such topics up before you have been offered the job will make the interviewer feel as though you are keen to find out what the organisation can do for you rather than using the interview as a way of highlighting what you can do for the organisation. Candidates should leave topics like this until they have been offered the job.
A5: I read in the newspaper last week that you are expanding into Europe. Is the organisation
expanding into any other markets? What effect do you think this will have on the organisation in the short term and long term? How might this affect its employees?
A5: This question starts off quite well. You are demonstrating that you keep up with the latest developments in the organisation (and the industrial sector in general), showing the sort of commercial awareness that the interviewer will be looking for. However, the questions then start to become too in-depth and too numerous. This could well put the interviewer on the spot and annoy them as it would take a while for them to answer – potentially making them run late for other interviews.
Q6: Would you mind if I briefly tell you about another of my achievements that I feel is relevant to the job / course, but which I haven’t yet had chance to talk about?
A6: Although you should try to make sure you get across all your key selling points when answering the questions posed by interviewers, there may be occasions when this isn’t possible. If there are a spare couple of minutes at the end of the interview, you could use the opportunity to tell the interviewer about other key achievements, experience or attributes that you have. Make sure that what you highlight is relevant to the job or course you are being interviewed for.
[These questions were adapted from the University of Sheffield’s MOOC on Interview Skills, available at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/interviews]