I recently watched as a job applicant crashed and burned in an interview, not because of the answers he gave to the questions posed to him, but because of the pathetic questions he asked his interviewers. When invited to raise any questions he had for us, the job seeker said he didn’t have any. When pressed, he asked us to describe our careers–then added the fatal question: “When did you first start working in advertising?” It became painfully clear that he hadn’t done his homework, and there won’t be a second interview.
Yes, this was a rare occurrence. What this experience underscores, however, is the critical need for applicants to come fully briefed since most interviews end by with an offer to answer any of your questions. Besides doing Google or LinkedIn searches on each person you’re meeting, prepare at least 10 thoughtful questions or comments that show you did your homework. About.com provides an excellent list of questions that will get you started–just personalize as much as possible to the respective agency or company.
Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of job-search site TheLadders.com, touches on this issue in his Corner Office interview in today’s New York Times. When asked what he considers the best question candidates ask in an interview, Cenedella said: “When they ask you, ‘Hey, do you have any more questions?’ ask them, ‘How do I help you get a gold star in your review next year?’ The person who’s interviewing you had to go through a lot of effort to get this opening, particularly in this economy. Be empathetic and realize that they are hoping that this position is going to make their life better. Ask them how you can be a part of that.”