Interviewing 101: Take Your Follow Up Questions to the Next Level

In today's job market, you to not only stand out, but also soar to the top of an organization's prospect list. But, you don't want to fall into the trap of over-preparing to the point that you go in sounding rehearsed, and then have a deer-in-the-headlights moment when you get thrown a curveball.

There's a careful balance with interview preparation that requires preparation (e.g., company research, practicing standard questions) and the ability to think (and respond!) on your feet.

I've worked with all sorts of job candidates through interview coaching over the past four years - from entry level through senior management. Across all seniority levels, it's imperative to strike a balance of professionalism and personality, and to demonstrate that you are thoughtful and engaging.Those qualities tend to help interviewers remember and relate to you in a way that helps YOU to move further along the interview process. 

Let's talk about maximizing your opportunity to engage the interviewers. 

This is a common recommendation for improving your interview performance. You know it's imperative to ask thoughtful and engaging questions, but do you know how to do that? It's important to think about who each interviewer is and what they do at the organization. The goal is to demonstrate your interest in them as people and professionals. 

Consider nixing the use of the most common follow up question there is "what do you like most about working here?" It's overdone, and the interview panel may have answered this question several times by the time you ask it.

Instead, study up on the social media, press releases, and blog posts of the organization generally, and--if any of the interviewers are senior enough--the interviewers' corporate social media accounts.

  • Have they just launched a new project? Well, then ask what the most challenging aspect of getting the project off the ground was. This will give you a feel for how well the team works together, and to what extent there's a collaborative or competitive spirit in the organization.

  • Ask for one thing they would like to change about their work environment. This will tell you far more than asking what they like about a workplace, and getting a series of safe, vanilla responses.

  • Consider asking what, if any, vetting process exists for ideas for new projects or initiatives. This will tell you how seriously the organization takes its mid-senior and junior level employees.