In 2006, when I was a senior in college, there was more emphasis on getting internship than preparing for an interview. Today, it’s the same mentality with perhaps more resources and emphasis on drafting a well-formatted resume. Yes, universities and career development offices are still helping college student learn how to present themselves, and answer the question “tell me about yourself.”
However, in my 10+ years of working with, advising, and interviewing college students, there is one area where they are falling short.
The often overlooked and always underprepared question: “Do you have any questions?”
This is the number one area where interviewees can stand out and automatically sound more professional and prepared.
I have been on both sides of an interview, and throughout my time in the real world I can confirm that having a list of prepared questions will set you apart, especially if you are interviewing for an internship or entry level job.
Generally, the questions that you do prepare are either surface level or logistic type of questions:
What is a typical day at your company?
What are your next steps?
When are you looking for this person to start?
Where will I be working?
Who will I be working with?
And the worst: “I’m good, you answered all my questions.”
Even if you go into the interview, with what you think are five great questions, four out of five will be answered in the first 20 minutes. Especially, if they are similar to the ones above. Plus, you should be able to find most of this out from the job description, their website, past interns/employees, Glassdoor.com reviews, Linkedin, etc. As any advisor or career counselor will tell you, you need to prepare and learn as much about the organization as possible.
Here are the questions you will want to add to your lineup that will give you confidence, make you sound intelligent, and help you stand out.
So next time you are asked, “Do you have any questions?” you can answer, “Yes, I do.”
Please note, don’t be robotic or ask these verbatim in this order. Use this as a launch pad and tailor depending on the energy of the interview.
What is one accomplishment in the last 1-2 years that you are proud of?
How do you and your team celebrate wins or success?
What is one thing you have been working on in the last year that you haven’t had time to complete?
What does success look like?
A: Internship interview: What does success look like for this internship in the first week, month, semester?
B: Full time job interview: What does success look like for this position in the first 30/90/365 days?
Are there any trends (within the company or industry) that will pertain to growth/decline of this position/company?
What would your colleagues tell me about you? (more suited for a full-time position and you have to feel a relaxed vibe in this interview)
How does this internship/job fit into your organization?
If this is a new position/internship you can ask something to the effect of: why now?
What are the business objectives of your organization? Are there anything holding you back?
What can I clarify for you about my qualifications? Are there any other questions I can answer for you?
Remember, just as they are interviewing you, you need to be interviewing them.
To all of us out there who have been through an interview, what has been the best question you have asked or been asked?