It’s Not Only Your Answers That Leave an Indelible Impression
Interviews for finance jobs can be extremely stressful. You will be probed on your knowledge, experience and expertise. Then just when you think the worst is over, you are asked that one final dreaded question: “Do you have any questions?”
This is your chance to really stand out. Your chance to demonstrate that you are eager to land this job, that you have prepared well, and that you think more deeply and creatively than the other candidates the interviewer will be questioning. Below, we describe five questions that will help you leave a positive impression with your interviewer.
Ask Your Questions Naturally
Before we get into the questions to ask, it’s important to ask them naturally. The best way to do this is not to wait until the end of the interview, but to pose your questions at the appropriate point during the interview. Your interview should be a two-way dialogue, and asking appropriate questions as the conversation progresses will show the interviewer that you are paying attention, curious, and confident. However, if you haven’t had the opportunity to ask these questions during the interview, then do ask them before you leave.
1. “What Is the Single Most Important Aspect of This Role?”
This question will help you gain an insight into how you will fit into the hiring company. You should learn who you will be reporting to, and who will be reporting to you. As the interviewer answers the question, seek opportunities to remind them how your skill set matches the requirements of the role.
2. “What Are the Opportunities for Professional Development?”
This is a great question to ask. You are demonstrating that you want to develop your career with this employer – for most employers this is a big tick in the box. An employer wants to hire people with ambition, who will help the company to grow. The answer will give you an idea of how serious the employer is about promoting from within, if they have mentoring and coaching programs in place, and what professional qualifications you may be expected to achieve while in the role. It also offers the chance to demonstrate that continuous learning has been important to you throughout your career.
3. “How Would You Determine My Success in this Role in the First Six Months?
This question shows you are keen to excel, but that you are also detail oriented. You want to know what your KPIs (key performance indicators) will be, how they will be measured, and how you can meet them. The interviewer should be able to add meat to the bones of the finance job description. For example, you may be required to show ‘presentation skills’. The conversation you have around this question should draw out what that means – such as presenting financial reports at board level. The key here is to draw out specific expectations and to understand how your performance will be measured.
4. “How Is Workflow Managed?”
This question should provide you with answers to a question that would cast you in a negative light – such as “What time is the working day done?” or “Will I be expected to work weekends?” Developing a conversation around this question will help you understand the methods and tools that the hiring company uses. It also offers the opportunity for you to show how you are an effective time manager, adept at prioritizing and delegating tasks, and that you maintain a healthy work/life balance.
5. “Why Is This Position Available?”
This is a probing question that will help you learn much about the company and the potential to progress within it. If it is because the previous incumbent left the company, could this be a red flag? Try and gain an understanding of why the previous employee moved on. The vacancy may have been opened by internal promotion, demonstrating that there is room for growth. You may also wish to ask if the company is considering hiring from within.
It may be a new role created because of expansion – in which case, you will probably need to ask about those expansion plans and the commitment of the company to the new venture. The answers to this question should provide you plenty of opportunities to assert that you will fit into the role seamlessly, as well as the information you need to help you decide whether to accept the job offer when it arrives.
What Not to Ask an Interviewer
Before we sign off, as a bonus we should mention the questions that you shouldn’t ask:
• Salary and bonuses:
Avoid raising the subject, and if the interviewer brings salary into the equation, simply say something like “I’m sure that any offer made will reflect my experience and knowledge, and align with market rates.”
• Background checks:
Never ask if the employer will run background checks – it looks like you have something to hide.
• Easy-to-answer questions:
Any question whose answer could be learned from a 30-second Google search should never be asked. Doing so makes it look like you couldn’t be bothered to do any research ahead of the interview, and that makes it look like you aren’t really interested in the position.
Develop Your Own Questions
The five questions above should give you a starting point to develop your own questions. Think what it is that you most want to learn about the role and the company, and consider what questions you can ask to gain that insight. Then make sure that they are positive questions, and consider how you can develop a conversation around them that helps to confirm your credentials as the stand-out candidate.