During an interview, you probably focus more on the questions you ask and how candidates answer. A more telling aspect of the interview might be the things prospective hires ask you. While some candidates have little to say when asked if they have any questions, a few have some insightful queries that may give interviewers reason to think about their answers too.
If you’re on the other side of the desk and looking for a new position in finance yourself, use this knowledge and take advantage of that “So, what questions do you have for us?” that wraps up any interview. It’s your opportunity to take the lead and steer the discussion where you’d like it to go. Instead of responding with a generic, fluffy question about company goals or office culture, outstanding candidates ask incisive, highly specific questions. These five elicit some of the most promising responses and can help you decide on a good fit.
“What Are Your Expectations for My First Quarter?”
A great candidate aims to make a difference from the outset, and someone who sets a date for achieving measurable success is a promising new hire. If you’re the interviewer, hearing this question shows that this candidate sets lofty but achievable goals and follows a timetable to get there. If you’re being interviewed, use this time to evaluate what the company wants from you and develop plans for delivering it.
“Do You See Gaps in My Skill Set You’d Like Me to Fill?”
During job interviews, candidates work hard to appear flawless, but no new hire is perfect. The interviewer has already spotted any areas that need improvement, and by acknowledging these gaps, a potential hire demonstrates a willingness to grow. Employees who can accept and learn from feedback are good bets for the future and are flexible enough to adapt themselves to the company’s needs. When you’re the one being interviewed, it can feel like a big risk to acknowledge your resume’s imperfections, but the pay-off can be tremendous. You learn more about what your prospective employer expects of you, gain valuable feedback on where you can improve and communicate that you’re real to your interviewer. After a string of interviewees who try their best to impress, the one who creates a meaningful dialogue with this question leaves an impression.
“What Do Your Top People Have in Common?”
To succeed at this company, understanding what drives the success of its top performers is key. A candidate who asks this question gets a good idea of your company’s priorities, strengths and corporate culture based on your answer. It provides a road map to new hires who aspire to take one of those valuable spots at the top. As an interviewee, asking about the company’s most valued employees illustrates your eagerness to join them.
“What Do You Like Best about Working Here?”
This question has as much to do with how it’s answered as with the answer itself. It’s a given that the interviewer will say yes, but not every yes sounds the same. An enthusiastic, detailed yes tells a candidate volumes about why an employer is a good one. As a candidate for a CFO position, you want to ask this question of your interviewer to see how closely your goals and the company’s align. Someone who lists salary and benefits may appeal to your financial goals, but an emphasis on making a difference or pushing the envelope within an industry could signal the kind of innovative thought that makes you happy to go to work each day.
“How Has ___ Affected You?”
Candidates that pinpoint the most sweeping changes that have affected your company and ask how you’ve dealt with them want to learn about your strategies while showing their own industry knowledge. New tax laws, the Affordable Care Act, fluctuating securities prices and other major developments that affect a candidate’s role directly should be addressed. For a savvy interviewer, the question can also reveal a candidate who has done additional homework, especially if the topic is one you’ve been puzzling over how to address yourself.
Whether you’re the interviewer or the prospective employee, note what happens when the candidate takes the reins.