Blog / Insights

Don't Be Afraid To Ask

December 19, 2018

While the idea of an interview is two or more parties sharing discussions, ideas and insights in order to come to a decision about possible next steps, most interviews and interviewers seem to focus more on the potential employee. More often than not, interviews are 70-80% focused on the individual, leaving 20-30% of the time allowed for the potential employee to ask questions about the role, the organisation, the culture.

As an HR and recruitment professional, I think this is wrong and therefore want to provide you with some ideas to consider during the interview process.

Always go into an interview with some prepared questions. You may be able to remember these but don't be scared to go in with a smart notepad and pen prepared with your questions or comments for discussion. The interview is a two way process and a meeting of minds, so why should you not be armed with the same tools as an interviewer?

When the interview opens, establish whether you can ask questions at any time. Things may be discussed that you want clarified or expanded upon so do not hesitate to put a question back to your interviewer. Framing the question and timing it appropriately could allow you to glean more information to help make an informed decision about the work, opportunity, company and people.

Always take the opportunity to ask about the interview and assessment process - how many stages? who participates? what is assessed? time-frames? Not only does this show you are interested and want to prepare for next steps, but it also gives you a good idea of how long the process may last or who is involved.

Do not be scared to ask why they interview, assess or select in a certain way. Finding out more about the criteria they use in an open manner might give you a better feel for the kinds of things they are looking for in the successful candidate, so you can then tailor your approach and sell yourself more effectively.

Most people will go into an interview with some idea of what the remuneration package will look like but rarely do they scratch below the surface at this stage. Discussing the package is considered a taboo subject by some, but being open and setting expectations in a polite and professional manner only helps both sides in the process.

Some interviewers will ask the clichéd question ‘where do you see yourself in five or ten years?’ By all means answer sensibly regarding aspirations - it is good to set expectations - but why not ask the interviewer where they see the role going or whether they can give examples of people who have developed during that time.

When you do ask questions why not follow up by asking them to provide an example of what they mean or that illustrate what they have said. It is something an interviewer will do in order to validate your experience, so why not turn the tables in a proactive and professional way?

As the interview draws go a close you will almost certainly be asked if you have any final questions. Don't be afraid to enquire whether they need you to expand on anything, how they feel you have performed, or even how you compare with other candidates for the role. This creates a further opportunity for you to sell yourself and to remedy any mistakes you may have made.

About The Author

Giles O'Halloran is an experienced HR and Recruitment professional who works as a freelance consultant, strategist, writer and coach. He also spent 12 years as a reservist with the UK's Reserve Forces, serving first with the TA and later with the RAuxAF. Giles is passionate about technology, the value of networks and the future of work.


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