Art of Asking Questions from Interviewer

How you ask your questions is of prime importance. You are not interviewing the interviewer. You are just making sure that you gather enough knowledge about the job to determine if it is the right one for you, impress the interviewer by asking smart questions and sound interested in the job. For this purpose, not only you have to ask the right questions but you have to also ask them in the right manner. Remember, how you ask is more important than what you ask. Given below are some strategies to help you develop the art of questioning.

Keep them Open Ended

Questions can be either open ended or close ended. If the answer to a question can be a simple 'yes' or 'no' it is a close ended question. This type of question does not give you more information. A close ended question generally starts with: did, does, has, is or would. For example: Does your organisation provide insurance cover for the family of its employees? On the contrary open ended questions are those which leave space for more information to be communicated. They generally start with: how, when or who. For example: How do your organisation support insurance needs of its employees and their family?

Be Concise

Don't ask very lengthy questions. If you have a long question cut it short by focusing on one point at a time. Often people miss out on important points of questions while answering, if there are too many of them involved at once. Further, asking short and focused questions will help the interviewer to easily understand them.

Frame 'YES' Questions

Once people have expressed disagreement it is difficult to bring them to an agreement. Once a person says 'no', it is difficult to bring him to a 'yes'. In order to make people agree with you, ask them some questions which have a sure-shot positive reply. This sets their frame of mind to 'yes'. Then pose your original question. Chances are that you will get a yes again. If that is hard for you to do then make some positive statements and just add the words like 'right' or 'isn't it' after them. For example:

• Wasn't your organisation ranked “in the 2011 global survey?

• Your organisation ranked “in the 2011 global survey, right?

Use Inclusive Language

If you are able to develop a rapport with the interviewer then you can turn the chances to your advantage by using a language that suggests that you are part of the team. For example, instead of saying 'you' say 'we' or 'us.' This would help you implant positive thoughts in the interviewer's mind. Use this technique only if you are able to establish an initial rapport with the interviewer else you would sound too eager or assuming. However, if the interviewer starts using such a language himself, then you should just reciprocate it.

Moreover, use the word 'would' as this will save you from charges of being presumptuous and indicate that you are not too sure yourself. For example: Instead of saying, "What are your sales targets for the next 3 years?" you may say, "What would be our sales targets for the next 3 years?"

Maintain Relevance

The question you ask must be relevant to both the interview and the interviewer. If you ask a question about a football match or women reservations bill it might not be relevant to the interview. Similarly, if you ask an HR manager about costing data of product or production layout it might not be relevant to the interviewer. You should know the position of the interviewer and then ask him questions which fall under his area of expertise.

Avoid 'Uninformed' Questions

There are certain things about the organisation you should know about before you go for the interview. Interviewers expect you to do reasonable amount of research about the organisation. Sometimes, you may not have done your homework and consequently ask questions which are quite obvious. For example: where is the head office of the organisation located? or when was the organisation founded? Etc. The answer to these questions can be taken from the receptionist or the secretary or by even doing a bit of research on the organisation. Don't make your ignorance or laziness an excuse to pose questions.

Avoid 'If' Questions

You can get to know a lot about other people by asking those questions indirectly. 'If' questions are indirect questions which are designed to do just that. For example: "If you were the CEO of the company what markets would you like to explore and why?" or "If we were in the 22nd century would your advice still be the same?" But you are not the interviewer and probably you don't want to know more about the interviewer as a person. All you want to know more about is the organisation for which you may work and the job profile of the position you are being considered for. So, don't ruin your chances by asking 'if questions.

Modify 'Why' Questions

Questions which start with ‘why’ assumes an air of authority which unfortunately you don't have in an interview. So don't diminish your chances by asking 'Why' questions. Instead modify them and ask for a talk, discussion or explanation about the same thing. For example:

Why question: Why did you shift your production facilities to South Korea?

Modified why question: I am interested in your recent decision of shifting the production facilities to South Korea. In the Business Week, an article questioned your decision by putting forward the suggestion that the cost of transferring the raw material to the new facilities would set off the reduced labor cost. Can we discuss about this for a moment?

Avoid 'Superlative' Questions

In this world full of choices people generally categories things into two's instead of three's: bad and worse; good and better.

Superlative: What is the biggest challenge the company is facing right now?

Comparative: What are the three important challenges being faced by the company right now?

Superlative: Who is the ... best thing...?

Comparative: Which are the.... couple of things you like...

Be Organisation-Oriented

You may have concerns about yourself and your family which you want to be addressed. But remember the interview is about the problem which the employer has to solve. All you have to do is turn your concerns around a bit so that they appear organisation-oriented rather than self-oriented. For example:

Self-oriented: I value upgrading my skills constantly and would like to know what kind of educational support does your organisation provide to its employees?

Organisation-oriented: I give my 100% to the organisation I work for in terms of my experience and skills. However, in this modern world there is a need to constantly upgrade skills in order to outperform the competition and excel. Does the organisation support their team members by helping them to learn new skills to perform better?

Take Permission

It always pays to be courteous. Before you start asking questions, take permission to do so. It is considered to be polite and respectful. For example you may say, "1 had some questions in my mind. Can I ask you if you don't mind?" or "There are few things which came up in my mind during our talk. May 1 seek a clarification?" Asking for permission first would also create curiosity in the mind of the interviewer about the question you want to ask. This would reduce the chances of refusal to answer your questions.


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