Sometimes, getting a job depends more on what you ask than what you answer. All too often, however, job seekers spend all their time preparing for how to answer the hiring manager's questions, putting very little thought into the questions they'll ask in return.
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I often compare the job search to dating. I don't know about you, but I've never been on a first date where I hoped that the guy sitting across from me would propose. That would be crazy, right? But somehow, we expect something similar from the job hunt. We show up to interviews hoping to be picked. We never think about whether or not we actually like the company.
This becomes especially problematic when it comes to the end of the interview and the hiring manager asks, "Do you have any questions I can answer for you?" Sometimes, you find that during the course of the interview, all of your questions have been answered. So, you respond honestly: "No, thanks. You've already answered all of my questions."
This may seem like a reasonable response to you, but unfortunately, many hiring managers don't agree. It surprises me just how many hiring managers are hung up on this issue. When a job seeker doesn't ask any questions, the hiring manager doesn't assume their questions were answered during the interview. Instead, the hiring manager assumes the job seeker isn't really interested in the job.
Of course, job seekers know that isn't true. You didn't take an entire day off to interview for a job you don't care about!
You can avoid this unnecessary hurdle by making a list of questions. Research good questions to ask online. Keep more questions on hand than you'll need. If by some chance the hiring manager does manage to answer every question on your list, think of more on the fly. I know this sounds daunting, but here is an example of a question that the hiring manager probably didn't fill you in on already: "Why did you choose to come work here, and what's your favorite thing about the company?"
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This is a good question because it helps you to learn more about the hiring manager. It gets them talking about themselves. It helps you learn more about the company, too, and it's unlikely the hiring manager will answer it without being asked directly. Hiring managers, tend to focus on asking candidates questions and sharing information about the role. They rarely talk about their own personal experiences.
Before your next interview, list out everything you want to know about the company and role. Decide whether the company is a fit for you. Avoid coming across as an uninterested candidate.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.