At the end of the interview, you will always be asked the question “Do you have any questions for me?” by the interviewer.
You might be tempted to reply “No, I believe you’ve answered everything.”
*Bzzzzzzzzz* Wrong Answer!
The end of the interview is your opportunity to ask questions. In North American culture there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.
In fact, it’s recommended.
Why? Because it shows you are interested in this job. It shows you want to learn more.
Also, it is only by asking the right questions, does the manager reveal hidden gems of information about this position they may have neglected to mention during the interview.
A great question to open with is – “What has led to this position becoming available at this time?”
The key words there are “…at this time”, because it helps the manager focus on the present problems and situation with their department and company.
There are a couple of reasons that could exist:
#1 It’s a brand new position
This is a brand new position. Either because a new skillset is required or the work load has increased.
Either ways, you get to know what is changing in the organization and how the hiring manager is dealing with that change with this new hire.
It’s a chance for you to understand what are the pain points the manager is facing right now that has led to the company agreeing to spend more money (your salary) to solve that problem.
You are, after all, being hired to solve a problem. Listen carefully for that problem in the manager’s answer and then go after it with follow up questions.
#2 Your replacing an employee who left
Your immediate follow up question would be to ask what the hiring manager felt about the previous person’s performance.
If it was a poor performer, the next question should be the reasons the last person didn’t do well.
Then you know what the manager is looking for in an employee and what traits are important to them, and you can again, speak to those requirements.
If it was an average performer, the next question should be where the manager felt the person did well, and where they could improve.
If it was a rock star, the next question would be what made the previous person stand out.
Why it’s important…
Asking these questions gets you inside the head of the manager. It exposes what’s important to them.
Once you know what they want from an employee, you are in a much better position to stand out from other candidates.
Note that this is a question you should ideally be asking to the direct manager and/or recruiter. It would not be suitable for second/third round interviews with the senior management, if applicable.