“Thank you for coming in today. Do you have any questions for us?”
Most candidates hear those words and rejoice! Hallelujah, this interview is over! Now I can jump up, rush out of here, and breathe.
But your last impressions is almost as important as your first impression. So be sure to take your time and take leave properly.
One key element of that is to have questions ready to ask the interviewers. Make sure you’ve done your research on the organization so that when you hear, “Do you have any questions for us?,” you are ready.
When this came up at an undergraduate workshop for Hispanic Studies students at Brown last week, there was a chorus of, “I never have questions!”
By then I knew the students well enough to come up with a few questions on the fly:
For an upcoming interview at a local non-profit that serves a predominately Latino community, I knew one student could ask these questions:
- I see you have a lot of photos on your websites–how was the visual side of the site designed?
- Did someone within the organization take the photos?
- Did you have to get signed releases for any of the images?
That shows that you have done your research on the organization, connected what you’ve found to your own interests (photography, in this case), and thought about how you can apply your unique skill set to the unmet needs of the organization.
Another example from last Tuesday came from a health clinic. In that setting, you would have to know enough to be able to say something like:
“I know 50% of your patient population is monolingual Spanish-speaking and that is up from just 15% 5 years ago. On your website, it looks like you have two bilingual employees–a receptionist and a nurse. I have experience in a 100% monolingual Spanish-speaking clinic where I had to communicate with patients, their families, medical staff, vendors, and other organizations in Spanish. How could I use my bilingualism in this internship?” (or, “what are the Spanish-English needs you have that are not currently covered?”)
The questions that you ask at the end of an interview are your opportunity to burn yourself into the memories of the interviewers. It’s the time to show that you:
- have been paying attention throughout the interview,
- understand that this interview is about them–the organization, the interviewers–and their needs,
- are so passionate about the position that you researched the organization before you even applied, and
- are the perfect candidate who they will want to follow-up with before some other lucky employer hires you!
And for the students I was working with last Tuesday, these questions were easy to come up with precisely because their experiences and passions aligned extremely well with the organizations where they were applying. The key is to explicitly communicate to the employer that you have the right experiences, are passionate, and know that you’re a good fit for them because you’ve done your homework before the interview.
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in training students to highlight their language studies so they stand out in the job search and workplace. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a workshop, contact Darcy: firstname.lastname@example.org