To ask questions, or not to ask questions? That is the question

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As a recruiter, I spend a large amount of time giving interview tips to candidates and taking feedback from employers and job hunters on how they performed at interview.

I hear a broad range of questions asked by both candidate and client alike...but what should you be asking and be prepared to answer?

Whether you are attending your first ever, second or fifteenth interview, I will always aim to give straightforward and helpful interview tips, plus a few support documents. Your level of experience and the type of role you are applying for can dictate the type of preparation you should go through. But even if you are interviewing for a CISO role, you shouldn’t forget the basics of good eye contact, a firm handshake and dressing to impress.

Interview questions to ask your interviewer

Dress code and the basics aside, there’s much to learn when it comes to interviews and in truth you will always get a few curve ball questions but this article is focused on the questions you can ask your interviewer.

Do you have any questions for me?

It is common practice to prepare questions to ask your interviewer and you may be tempted to jot down a few ideas at the last minute. If this is the case, these questions tend to be:

  • How could I progress in the business?

  • What is the pension/health care scheme?

  • How much holiday would I get?

  • What is the dress code?

  • What are the working hours?

  • Where is the business going in the next five years?

Yes, these are all good questions but do they show your potential employer that you are forward-thinking, career-minded and driven? And will they make you stand out from the crowd? After all, the questions that you ask could make the difference between you getting the job or being pipped at the post by someone who was “better suited to the role.”

Must try harder

I can’t guarantee that the following tips will secure you your next role but they may just give you a competitive edge.

What would my first 30 days look like in the business?

This is a popular question for an employer to ask, to see if you would 'hit the ground running'. Turn it around – get them to build a picture of what this role would be like from day one for you. After all, this will give you unique insight into the role.

What are the three biggest challenges the company faces this year?

Also ask if these are the same for the department you would be working for. This will give you an idea of what lies ahead for your time in the business. Plus, if you have faced these challenges before, it gives you the opportunity to discuss your experiences.

What are the next steps in the hiring process?

This will give you a clear picture of the hiring process, demonstrate your interest in the role and tell you how long you should expect to wait before hearing back from them.

Is there any preparation you would advise me to do before starting this role?

A bold question that shows your ability to plan ahead and your desire to 'hit the ground running', which is what every employer wants.

Why did you join the business? And what has made you stay?

This is a great way to connect with your interviewer, to understand what makes people within the business tick and what has made the business a success.

How well do you think my interview went? Can you see any reason why I am not right for this role? If you could change anything about my skill set what would it be?

These are a few variations on a theme and I estimate that 90% of people don’t ask these questions. However, the one thing we all want to know is “are you going to hire me?”

Yes it is quite a bold question and some people may feel uncomfortable asking this but trust me – it shows a keen interest in the role and, particularly if you are interviewing for a sales or even pre-sales role, it demonstrates your ability to 'close'. If your interviewer shares their concerns, you have the opportunity to discuss them there and then, ensuring that your interviewer leaves secure in the knowledge that you are suited to the role. It could help them to make their decision a lot faster.

These tips aren’t a golden ticket to getting every interview you go for and some of them can be tough questions to ask, but they may be the difference between a no and a yes when it comes to success at interview.

Do you have a great interview tip?

I am always looking for more tips or advice and would love to hear about the questions that you think are powerful at interview. Feel free to share or get in touch with the ARM Cyber Security team for both employers and candidates. You can also follow us on LinkedIn for our latest blogs and news.

So dig deep and soul search, because we all know it’s true... don’t we?