The Value of a Good Question

By Ryan Mann, Staffing Manager

Today’s free, blue-light special job search tip is on the value of asking a good question. Now, you may ask yourself, “Wait a minute–I’m the candidate! I answer questions, I don’t ask questions!” While it is certainly true that you will answer more questions than you will ask in any interview process, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think of good, insightful questions to ask. Let me explain.

The goal of any interview process is to determine if the other party is a good match. Both sides must determine this. The company must decide if the candidate brings the right skills and personality to the table. Likewise, the candidate must decide if the company offers the right cultural fit, a solid career opportunity, and challenging enough work to satisfy the candidate.

One way that you as the candidate can determine if the company meets your needs and goals is by asking good questions during the interview process. Let’s look at a few benefits of a good question:

Clarifying Job Descriptions and Titles

Job descriptions and job titles have a tendency to be somewhat generic. Different companies can use the same terms and same titles, but have different expectations. By asking a good question when the opportunity arises in the interview process, you can clarify what the company is really looking for, and better determine if they are a good match for you.

Understanding Expectations

When you apply to a job, you understand a good deal of the type of background that the company is looking for. But you don’t understand the metrics, measures, and deadlines that will be used to determine success in the position. By asking questions like, “What will a successful new hire accomplish in the first 3 months?” or “What goals should a new hire accomplish in the first year?” you will get a good idea for the company’s expectations that are not listed in their job posting.

Learning More about the Team

Generally, going into an interview with a new company, you know very little about the team. You don’t know if you will be a lone ranger, saving the corporate world all by your lonesome, or if you will be working in a large team with many people to report to and cooperate with. Asking a good question about the size, structure, and culture of the team will help you to learn more.

Showing the Company that You Are Engaged

Our first three benefits all focus on things that you can learn by asking insightful questions. But a good question can also further sell yourself as an intelligent, engaged, and thoughtful candidate. When you have no questions to ask of the company, they may as well assume that you are not engaged in the process, or maybe you don’t really know much about the type of position you are interviewing for. But when you ask an insightful question about anything–a software system, a product line, a business process–you show the company that you are engaged and thoughtful in the type of work that you do.

In summary, while much will be determined by your answers to questions as you interview, you and the company can gain a whole lot by the questions you ask as well!

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