The Top 5 Interview Questions People Forget to Ask
July 11, 2017
The interview process makes many people panic, whether you are a researcher, regulatory expert, or a senior marketer or recent graduate.
By the time the hiring manager comes to the end of their question and asks whether the candidate has any questions for them, the majority of candidates breathe an internal sigh of relief that the ordeal is over, answer ‘No thanks, I think you’ve covered everything’, or ask detail-focussed questions about salary and benefits.
This is a mistake that cam impact your overall interview performance.
The question time at the end of the interview is a golden opportunity to:
a. Consolidate a strong performance in the interview with some intelligent, searching questions.
b. Make a brilliant last-minute impression on a hiring board who may have previously discounted you.
c. Learn valuable, specific information about the role, company, and culture.
Here are some strong examples of questions that candidates often forget to ask. Don’t feel like you need to ask all of them, and adapt them carefully to your circumstances.
1. What kind of person do you think it takes to succeed in this role- and this company?
This, like all good interview questions, will make the hiring manager stop and think, deviating from the rote formula that so many interviews follow. What you hear next, is probably moving away from the ‘script’ of what the company believes it is, or even what the job description said.
This is where you get nuggets of real insight, such as ‘you’ll need to be a self-starter’, or ‘you’ll need to follow orders well’, or ‘you’ll need to be happy working in large teams.’
2. I want to continue developing my skills. Is there a training and development scheme in place, and how does it apply to this role in particular?
This question signals that you want to work in a learning culture, and that professional development truly matters to you. It’s important to ask how the training scheme applies to the role you’re applying for, as you might find that the company has an excellent development program for managers, but not as strong on sending scientists on conferences, or doesn’t support flexible hours for further academic study.
Good employers will see your interest in professional development as a positive sign that if they invest in you, your skills will pay them dividends in the future.
Employers who do not have a strong learning culture may indeed be deterred by your question, as they may fear you’ll want to be promoted too fast, or that you’ll require a large financial outlay for training. This is where you decide if you still want the job.
3. How is success measured in this role? How will I know that I’m doing well, and how does the company keep track of performance and offer guidance where needed?
It’s vital to know how your success will be measured, and how feedback is delivered.
For example, if you’ve worked in a smaller life science company with a lot of autonomy, but are moving to a company with strict targets and regular reporting, you need to know this beforehand.
If you don’t already know, it’s good to ask who you’ll be reporting to and how often performance reviews are conducted.
4. Is there a particularly favourable trait you’ve found in other candidates that you haven’t seen in me?
While this one takes a certain level of bravery to ask, isn’t it better to know if your CV or interview performance is falling short of the talent pool in some crucial way? Assess the style and ease of the interview process up until this point and gauge if you should ask it.
If you’re not sure how the interview has gone and you’re interviewing in a formal, fairly stuffy environment, this question may be too bold. Use your discretion.
5. What are some of the challenges and triumphs of the company presently, and how does this role help to move the company forward?
This is a great opportunity to show that company goals matter to you as an employee, and that you want to know how your role fits within the big picture. No matter what position you’re applying for- from lead scientist right through to Medical Director, it’s important that the company communicates how your role matters to the whole- and their willingness and enthusiasm to provide you with this information can be very telling about what kind of culture the company has.
This question also allows you to identify possible strengths of yours that had previously been missed in the interview, and which may be helpful in helping the company rise to their current challenges.
For example, if the company is adapting to a rapidly changing regulatory landscape, your early experience in regulatory compliance will be viewed favourably, or if you’re applying for a pharma sales role and the company is looking to increase a drug’s uptake in the region, your existing relationships with local hospitals will make you a standout candidate.
The questions you ask at the end of the interview are your opportunity to shine, and your opportunity to learn. Don’t waste them.