Most of our frantic pre-interview prep is dedicated to the big-ticket items, like making sure you can recite your last role’s responsibilities. But what we don’t tend to realise is that by the time we’re through that door, we’re through that door, and that’s when other considerations come into play.
By that point, most potential employers would’ve familiarised themselves enough with your CV to know exactly what it is you’re offering. The things they’re looking to find out are now more intrinsically tied to you as a person — like your ability to respond to a tricky question on the spot, or engage with your interviewers warmly.
That’s why the last impression makes such a difference. It’s unfortunate, then, that our last chance to make an impression is almost always tied to the question we’re least prepared for.
‘Any questions for us?’
So, the next time you find yourself in this situation, make sure you ask the following:
‘What attributes would you need to be successful in this role?’
Straight off the bat, you show you’re looking to bring your A-game. While you may understand the requirements of the post — say, a good grasp of grammar for someone in communications — there are invariably other aspects a list of tasks can’t possibly highlight, like, say, the ability to persist under multiple high-profile deadlines.
Asking this question is a quick way to figure out whether your skills and personality align with what the company’s looking for.
‘What would a difficult day in this role look like for someone like me?’
Once you’ve set the ground for what kind of person would thrive in this role, it’s time to figure out what kind of setbacks you might encounter. Importantly, this question shows that you’re investing in the potential role by trying to fully understand what hiring you could mean for their workforce and your career.
Moreover, it’ll give you the opportunity to consider whether you have the right tools to deal with the aspects of the job you may not be the best equipped for; and could show your potential employers that you’re trying to be proactive in your problem solving from early on, too.
‘What is the typical career path for someone in this role?’
Plainly put: what will getting this role mean for me? What scope is there to move upwards in your company? Where do you expect me to go — and can you tell me a little bit about how the company will support my move upwards, if at all?
Of course, if you’re feeling particularly ballsy, there’s one killer question you can pull out to impress. Ready? It’s this —
‘What makes you think I’d be a good candidate for the role?’
Say it with me: Oooooh. Ballsy.
Say this with me, too: Ballsy is good. A question like this will throw your interviewers, that’s for sure, but it’ll show them you’ve got mettle. For once, it’ll put the interviewers under the spotlight. What characteristics in your CV stood out to them?
If it so happens that they’re left absolutely stumped for answers — well, perhaps that’s a sign you’re just a number in a line-up, and you should reconsider the role. If they come up with a nuanced response, what are their expectations — and have they aligned with everything you’ve discussed so far?
Above all else, don’t forget: an interview is a two-way street. While it’s easy to get bogged down in the stresses of answering each question perfectly, this is your opportunity to scope out whether the role they’re offering is the right one for you as well.
Make the most of it.
Viv Mah writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To browse graduate jobs London and graduate jobs Manchester, visit their website.