The Best Question to Ask in a Job Interview
Anyone who has been on an interview knows there usually comes a point at the end of the meeting where the interviewer says to the interviewee, "Do you have any questions?" You may be wondering whether it's OK to ask something. Or if you should just say, "no thank you," so as to not take up any more of their time. Having been a hiring manager myself and working with thousands of them on a regular basis, I can tell you that failing to ask questions can hurt your chances of getting the job. Here's what one hiring manager shared with me recently about it:
I have many candidates meet with me at the final interview. When I ask them what questions they have, I've too often heard, "Well, everyone else was great and answered them, so I'm good...." These people do not get offers. All candidates should look to get as much perspective (and even ensure they are getting consistent answers) for their own due diligence. Additionally, if someone doesn't have an inquiring mind, they're likely not a fit. At the end of the day, the closing interview typically means that the company is just about to provide an offer and it's probably the easiest one in which to shine!
He's right. Employers do see asking smart questions as a sign of a potentially good hire.
Your Questions Should Cover the 4Cs
As a career coach, I teach clients that the questions they ask at the end of the meeting should focus on the 4Cs:
Connect--Get to know the person better.
Culture--Understand who works best there.
Challenges--Clarify what keeps the management team up at night.
Close--Identify the next steps in the hiring process
In fact, I believe there are eight questions (two for each C), that can be used consistently in interviews to help you set yourself apart and shine in the interview. But, out of all of these questions, there is one that can have the greatest impact on getting you hired.
This One Question Can Help You Get Hired
Keep in mind, you're a business-of-one who has to sell your services to the employer. You can increase the chances of getting the job when you prove you can solve their problems and alleviate their pain. Therefore, the best question to ask in the interview is, "What's the company's biggest threat to success this year, and how will I be able to help overcome it in this role?" By asking this, you're giving the employer the opportunity to articulate how this position (and the person in it!) can offer the biggest impact. They're literally telling you how you can meet and exceed their expectations! Once they answer this question, you'll then have an opportunity to respond and even share some of your past experience that relates to what they said. This is how to reinforce the fact you understand what's important to them. This gives the hiring manager greater confidence that you're the candidate who will do the best job.
Don't Forget, Interviewing Is a Two-Way Street
The most important thing to remember in an interview is you're evaluating each other. You shouldn't assume any employer who is willing to meet with you is one you want to work for. Asking smart questions in the interview not only helps you gain the trust and respect of the hiring manager, it also helps you decide if you will survive and thrive as an employee there. That's why you should always have a list of questions ready to ask before you leave!