The most important interview question: "Do you have any questions?"

The most important interview question: "Do you have any questions?"

One of our APSCo summer interns, Ruth, has written the below based on what she's learnt so far at FJ.

Many of you will be interviewing gurus, but nobody starts off as one. I have some advice for those of us without years of interviewing experience behind us.

We’re coming out of what was a very employer-driven job market where the employer’s opinion of you was more important than your opinion of them. Consequently, you prepare questions to impress the employer and show off your ‘forward-thinking.’ You demonstrate how keen you are to mirror their top salespeople.

In an increasingly candidate-driven market, however, I think it’s important to embrace interviews as situations where you and an employer learn about each other, rather than it being a largely one-way street.

I think there are 3 good reasons to avoid this one-way street:

  • If you’re asking about something you genuinely care about the answer to rather than asking something to look good, you’ll naturally come across as more sincere
  • It’s important to share control of the interview situation
  • The best way to find out about the things which really matter to you is to ask – don’t waste the opportunity 

I think it’s time to share power equally in interview situations. What do you really want to know? Why is it important to you? The employer should be selling their company and the role to you just as much as you are selling yourself to the employer.

Equally, asking a good question for the wrong reason won’t tell you the benefits in the same way asking a good question for the right reasons will.  In other words, you won’t understand the positive implication. You will get far more value from asking a question if you know what you’re looking for in the answer.

Put your question into context. Tell the interviewer what you want to know and let them know it’s important to you. A good employer cares about its employees. Every person in business knows that there are better results for everyone if your boss knows what makes you tick, and also knows your needs. And if they can’t satisfy your needs, it probably isn’t the right company for you.

Isn’t life too short to be in the wrong job? Ask the right questions in the right way, and the outcome is happy for everyone!