questionsPicture yourself getting ready for your first ever grown-up job interview.  You’re in your late teens or early twenties, you’ve got some college experience under your belt, and you’re wearing the best formal-wear a college student can afford. You hear your mother’s voice echo in your head from a few weeks ago when you called to let her know you landed an interview, “be sure to ask good questions!”  She casually threw that last bit in there between closing remarks of, “Your father and I are so proud of you” and, “Wear clean underwear”, so how important could asking questions during an interview be, right?  Well, it just so happens that mom is onto something there, because asking the right questions as the interviewee is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from others.

Before your interview, make sure to do a little extra homework; this is one assignment you ACTUALLY cannot put off until five minutes before it’s due.  You need to give yourself time to research the company and make sure that you understand at least the basic gist of what they’re all about.  Anything that you don’t understand should be written down in the form of an engaging question, rather than something that can just be answered with a short yes or no. Find out who you’ll be interviewing with and find them on LinkedIn, try to get an understanding of their past work experience, and formulate questions about how they got to where they are now, especially if they are in the field you would like to be in.  Read the articles that they have found important enough to host on their website, and incorporate that information into some of your pre-prepared questions.

Another aspect to giving a great interview is to create questions on the fly.  There are two benefits here: you show an interest in what the interviewer is saying by redirecting the topic back at them, and you also show that you’re engaged by actively taking notes (you brought a notepad, right?).  My final tip on the subject is to always ask a question when asked, “Any more questions?”  One of my strategies is to just save a final question specifically for this moment; you really just need to ask one more substantial question, other than, “What are you paying me?”

Keep checking for more interview tips in the coming days!

Nick LeFevre also works for JTL Services, Inc. an Executive Search Firm.