If you did not get a chance to read the other articles I wrote around pieces of advice received from experts in the field, just know I’ve talked about how to invest in and educate yourself when you’re not “fully qualified” for a job (or if you’re planning on changing fields), and how to stand out when applying in a competitive market.
This week, we’ll look at smart questioning:
“Understand and extract as much information from your recruitment agency as you can to assist with your preparation.” – Tim Wearing, Co-Founder
“When you’re in an interview, make sure you listen to the question you’re being asked. It’s better to ask for clarification than misunderstand and answer the wrong question.” – Sarah Emmerson, Operations Manager
This was a recurring theme through the advice I saw, and one that is easily overlooked.
You may think, “Asking questions? Well, that’s easy!”. And I don’t disagree with that, it is easy, but how often do you do it? When I asked around my colleagues about how often candidates ask questions, the answer was always “not often enough”.
Either if it’s about something you did not understand clearly, or about feedback about your performance, you need to ask. Don’t assume, ask!
Ask your recruiter everything you want to know about the job and the company, and everything you think might be relevant for your interview. If you’re out of questions, ask, “Is there anything else I need to know before going to meet them?”. Interviewing for a job is as much about you assessing the company as it is them assessing you, so information is key.
Companies want to know that you want to work for them, so use your interview to get as much first-hand information as you can, while displaying a genuine interest in what they are doing. Whether it’s company growth plans, the background of their most successful people, where the company started, or what the opportunities are… whatever is important to you, don’t hold back!
If the interviewer asks you something that seems a bit odd, or that you don’t fully understand, don’t just go ahead and try to answer the question. Either ask them to repeat the question, or ask them to elaborate a little on what they mean. It will be a lot less awkward to do that, than to blast ahead and give an answer to something completely irrelevant.
Also, ask your interviewer smart questions that will allow you to elaborate on your experience. “What kind of skills are you looking for in the ideal candidate?”, or “Is there anything on my CV that concerns you?”. You never know, maybe you can explain what you did in a different way that might be exactly what they are looking for.
In brief: questions, questions, questions! There is no point leaving an interview unsure, or wondering “what did they mean by that?”, “Did they like me?”. If you don’t ask, you won’t get!
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