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It Takes Two to Interview
Oftentimes when preparing for a job interview people will focus heavily on answering questions. This is a great place to start but ultimately you’re only focusing on half of the interview. The other, and equally important, half is asking questions. Remember, this is as much about you learning about them. It helps to find out if you don’t fit with the company early than finding out six months into the job.
Have Your Questions Ready
Have your questions for the interview prepared ahead of time. These questions should give you insight into the company as a whole and the culture within it. This will also give you time to think of additional questions and allow you to listen more closely.
Be careful not to focus too much on your own questions though. You want this to feel like a conversation, not just you waiting for your turn to speak. You’ve had conversations like that, they’re not fun.
Make sure you are actively listening to the interviewer. If one of your prepared questions has been answered it’s a good idea not to ask it. Again, this should be a conversation. If they get the feeling you’re not listening it’s not going to go in your favor.
The interviewer can ask a question at any time so make sure you’re paying attention. The last thing you want is to be caught off guard without a response.
Interviews aren’t meant to feel like an interrogation. That’s not an effective method of finding the best candidate and will likely make you not want to work there anyway. By actively listening and engaging you’ve brought yourself to the conversation. Also, the interviewer will be impressed by your ability to carry on a conversation.
Much of the success from an interview can be attributed to your preparation (Refer to our article on Surviving an Interview for more on this). When you are fully prepared you’ll have a clear mind and be able to engage better with the interviewer. You’ll be able to confidently ask questions that will benefit you rather than just filling space because you think you have to.
Typically the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. This is your opportunity ask about a specific project they might be working on or have worked on in the past. By using the project as an example you can impress them with your knowledge while getting information for a seemingly unrelated question. For example: “What would my role have been during this latest project?” This tells them you have done your homework and it knocks out a very important question of your own — two birds, one stone.
By the end of the interview you should know whether this is the position you want and the company you want to work for. You should walk away from the interview feeling confident that when they make you an offer you know what your response is going to be.