How To Interview Your Interviewer

Posted on January 17, 2020

There’s a lot of information available on how to be successful in job interviews. While some of this information is useful, some may be detrimental. Wade Simmons, Senior Consultant with Macdonald Search Group Vancouver, is an expert on interviewing your interviewer. He believes that proper preparation for an interview is position-specific, career-level-specific and specific to the person and your comfort-levels.

While proper preparation is specific to a number of variables, the goals of an interview are consistent:

  • Making a fantastic first impression
  • Ensuring the interviewer feels confident that you’re a great fit for the opportunity, and
  • Coming out of the interview process understanding enough about the position and company to make an informed decision, should you get an offer.

The only way to achieve all these goals is to ask thoughtful questions during your interview. Wade breaks down the do’s and don'ts of interviewing your interviewer to help you land your next job:

Why You Must Ask Questions In A Job Interview

An interview is as much for an applicant to learn about a company and their potential new manager and team, as it is for a company to learn about the applicant. We spend a substantial amount of time at work every week and it’s important to find a position and company that we’re excited about. You can’t know everything needed to make an informed decision on your potential career change without asking some questions in an interview!

Furthermore, asking questions shows the interviewer that you’re truly interested in a role and their company. When you’re prepared and have done the research, you’re able to ask meaningful questions. To prepare questions that you want to discuss, look up information about the hiring manager on LinkedIn, scour the company website, and ask around for clues on the culture and topics of interest.

How To Interview A Hiring Manager

An interview isn’t an interrogation. It’s important to keep questions and answers conversational. The most natural way to interview the hiring manager is to ask questions throughout the interview, as they relate to the topic being discussed. That means not only sticking to the set of questions you’ve prepared but being open and ready to dive into topics that arise as well.

Of course, there will be some items on your question list that are not covered in natural conversation. It’s ok to ask them when the interview is starting to wrap up.

What Not To Ask During A Job Interview

Smart questions show your potential new manager that you’re prepared and you’re going to be a great fit for the role. It’s best to avoid questions that may create doubt.

Questions like what does your company do? and what are the responsibilities of this position? expose a lack of preparation. You should already know these answers prior to the interview stage, based on the job description, their website, and your research.

Avoid asking questions which imply that you may not be interested in the job or may not be interested in working hard. Asking about options for working from home, how many sick days you’re allowed, or when you’re allowed to schedule your first vacation day is a bad idea. Until you’re negotiating an offer, questions like these may give the impression that you may be a disinterested and unengaged employee.

When To Ask About Salary and Compensation

Avoid the topic of salary and any specific details which you would expect to see in an offer letter during a first interview. While money, vacation, benefits, etc. are things that are often on people’s mind when changing jobs, the point of a first interview is to learn if there may be a potential fit for the company and the candidate, not to negotiate an offer. You wouldn’t propose marriage on a first date, right?

IF the interviewer brings up the topic of salary and asks a specific question about compensation expectations, then you’re free to start talking numbers. It’s best to be prepared with some figures in mind so that you’re not caught off guard and, should it progress to an offer, you won’t have to provide a different figure in the future negotiation.

What To Ask In A First Interview

As mentioned, the object of the first interview is to gather enough information about the job, the manager, and the company (outside of what is in the job description and their website) to see if you’re interested in taking a second interview, should you be invited. Questions around company culture will give you insights into how things are done at this company. Asking for details on what type of person will be successful in the role, team and company will provide clues on the answers they’re looking for and if you would be a good fit.

The questions you ask may communicate more about you to the hiring manager than your answers to their own questions. Ask questions that make the interviewer feel you want to do a good job, be a team player, and that you will strive for success, such as:

  • What challenges do you anticipate from this role, and how can I best overcome them?
  • How do you feel I can best contribute to the department/company’s success?
  • What do you feel will be the key accomplishments and measures of success for this position over the first year?

In addition to giving a strong, positive impression to the interviewer that you are looking to support the company, these questions will provide you information about what to expect from this position and how to be successful in it.

How To End A Job Interview

A solid closing line for an interview is, “I really appreciate the opportunity to meet with you today. Based on what I’ve learned, I’m very interested in this opportunity. Are you able to tell me what the next steps in the process look like?”

This phrase shows thanks, that you’re interested in the job, it gives you some idea of where they are in the hiring process. It also sheds light on a potential timeline for when you may hear back and when it would be appropriate to follow up, if you haven’t heard from them.

Always leave on positive terms, as you never know who you will connect with in the future. Even if you aren’t the successful applicant for this position so often a hiring manager will have a new role to fill in the future and will reach out to stand-out applicants. You may be interviewing for your dream job and not even know it.

If you’re ready for a change, browse the MacDonald Search Group job listings.