Generally, at the end of an interview, the interviewer will ask something along the lines of, “Do you have any questions for us?” It is very important that you always ask questions in an interview when given the opportunity. Incredibly, the most common answer to this is “no” and (not so incredibly) this is the answer most likely to prevent you from being hired. The “no” answer is passive and does not demonstrate any interest or imagination.
You should always have questions prepared prior to the interview because your questions, like your answers, are something that will determine whether you get the job.
When people ask questions in an interview it shows:
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I also want to be clear that your objective in every interview is to get the job. Thus, when an employer answers your questions, it is important that you make certain the employer understands that their answers and description of the company match your strengths. I am not recommending you do not tell the truth; however, you need to find commonality between you and the employer.
If you are asking questions properly, you will get the interviewer talking and enjoying the conversation. While the six questions below are important to ask, you should also feel free to include anything that properly serves to further demonstrate your interest in the job.
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Here are some good questions to ask in an interview:
1. Why is this Position Open?
This is an important question to ask because it can give you a lot of information and may be very relevant to helping you decide whether (or how much) you want to work for the employer. The position could be open for the following reasons:
If someone left, or got fired, you should try and understand the reasons why. For example, the employer’s expectations for the person may be unrealistic. The pay may not be commensurate with what this role. Alternatively, the company may just be a lousy place to work.
If someone has left or been fired, it also makes sense to try and figure out how many people have had the same job in the recent past. There could be a problem with the job that makes it difficult to do well.
If someone left, or got fired, it is also a good idea to try and find out how long the person was in the job before you. If someone spent several years there, this is generally a good sign and means that (all things considered) they were able to get along with others and do well there.
If someone is getting promoted, or the company is growing, this is an excellent sign. Companies that are growing and promoting people tend to have good things going on, their revenues are increasing and they are doing something right. These are good companies to be part of.
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INTERVIEW ADVICE: If the position is open because the organization is growing, or someone has been promoted, express your enthusiasm for working for a company that has opportunity for advancement.
INTERVIEW ADVICE: If the position is open because someone was fired, or has left, make sure you let the employer know that the issues the other employee had are not something that you too would have. This is an opportunity to express how you are different, more competent, more loyal and a better fit for the job.
2. Who Would I Be Reporting to and What Are They Like?
The person (or persons) you report to is a very important calculation for any job. Being a manager is something that not everyone is good at. In contrast, some people are exceptional managers.
When the interviewers starts telling you about the person you will be reporting to, you can [hopefully] get a sense of whether they are someone you could work for. For example:
You need to have a very good understanding of the management style the person has who you will be reporting to. The person you work for can either make your life and job very pleasant, or they can make it hell. You need to make absolutely sure that you are comfortable with the person you are working for.
Throughout the years, I have seen numerous careers both advanced and destroyed by someone who had the fortune or misfortune to report to a given individual. You need to make sure that you are going to work for someone you feel comfortable with.
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INTERVIEW ADVICE: If the interviewer does tell you about a person you believe you would do well working for, it is important that you make sure the interviewer understands this. Make sure you express why you may be a good match for working with that supervisor.
3. What Goals Would You Have for Me During the First 30, 60 and 90 Days?
This will generally explain the expectations of the company you are going to be joining and how well-organized they are.
A well-run company is going to be able to answer this question and give you milestones. When they give you the answer to this question, their objectives will be reasonable and achievable. Their answer will also give you an indication of whether you feel this is a position you can excel in.
A poorly run company may not be able to provide you with a definitive answer to this question. If the position and its responsibilities are not well-defined, this means that you may find yourself in trouble down the road. If your position is not well-defined, and others’ positions are also not well-defined, the odds are pretty good that the organization may end up experiencing problems down the road. In order to succeed and grow, most companies need to be well managed and have clearly defined jobs for their employees.
Notwithstanding, some companies do not have clearly defined roles for people because they operate in a multi-tasking environment and expect their employees to be self-motivated and get all the work done, regardless of what it is. If this is the case, the most important thing you can do is make sure that you are comfortable with the work and the environment. As long as you are comfortable with this type of situation, you may be in good shape.
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INTERVIEW ADVICE: If the company has clearly defined tasks and roles, tell the interviewer that you enjoy working for a company with such structure. In many cases, the person interviewing you will have been involved in defining various roles in the company and will appreciate your comment.
INTERVIEW ADVICE: If the company has less defined roles for its employees, it is important for you to stress the fact that you willing to jump in and do whatever needs to be done.
4. What Do You Like Most About Working Here?
The answer to this question will generally tell you a lot of about the organization, its values and how the employees feel about the company. I love listening to employers’ answers to this question because they reveal so much about the business.
Some interviewers will tell you that they work really hard in the job but it is worth it because the work is rewarding. One time, I was interviewing with a big law firm in New York, and the interviewer gave me this answer.
“How hard do you work?” I asked.
“Hard” he said.
“How hard?” I asked.
“I have not had a day off in at least four months,” he told me.
These answers can tell you a lot about what it is like working for the employer. When I heard this, I decided this was not the place I wanted to work.
Other interviewers will smile when hearing this question and tell you about how much they like their colleagues, how everyone works together and the company does not feel like a competitive place to work. If you enjoy this type of comraderie, then this is the answer you want to hear.
You can develop a good picture of the organization from answers to this question. In most cases, you will learn how seriously the employer takes themselves, how much opportunity there is at the company and whether you will be happy there.
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INTERVIEW ADVICE: Regardless of the answer, it is important that you make the interviewer feel like they are understood. If the interviewer tells you everyone likes to go out for a beer after work, you should act like you enjoy developing friendships in the office. You should make the employer feel like you identify with them.
5. What Are the Characteristics of Your Most Successful Employees?
The answer to this question will provide you valuable perspective on what it is like working in the company. I have seen interviewers give very interesting answers to this question:
If you ask this question to enough interviewers, you are going to start to see a trend. The company may value the ability to network, hard work may be the most commendable trait, or business generation may matter most. Regardless of what their answer is, you need to make sure it is something you are comfortable with.
The more important message this sends to the interviewer, though, is that you are interested in being one of the company’s strongest performers.
INTERVIEW ADVICE: When the employer answers this question, you should stress that you share the qualities of their most successful employees.
6. What Are the Next Steps?
This is the most important question you can ask at the end of the interview. When you ask this question, it shows the employer that you are still interested in the job. It also gives you the opportunity to express that you are excited and feel you would be a good fit.
The best interviewees always ask this question with a tone that suggests they are ready to start the job right away. When you ask this question, it forces the employer to think about you as if you have already been hired.
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In addition, you will be able to determine their level of enthusiasm toward you. The employer may say you seem like a “terrific fit”, and they will get back to you shortly. Other companies will be vague, say they are still interviewing, and you will hear from them once they make a decision.
INTERVIEW ADVICE: When you end an interview, always act confident. Show the employer you feel like you can do the job well. Make sure the employer feels like you are grateful for the interview and hope to get the position.
When you are looking for a new position, it is important that you learn as much as you can about the organization as possible. These six questions will give you the information you need to determine whether you should accept an offer from the employer. In addition, these answers will show the employer you are committed as a candidate and interested in doing the job.
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Finally, when an employer asks if you have any questions, a useful strategy is to tell the employer you have written down some questions, and then open a folio with your inquiries (even if you only ask these six questions). It makes the interviewer believe that you really have taken the time to think about the interview and working there.
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About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the Founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter himself. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in a search and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.
About BCG Attorney Search
BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive that gets results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities that its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.