In the October 22, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader tries to keep everybody happy in the job interview:
I was wondering what to say when asked, “Do you have any questions?” when you’re seeing many different people from the same company during a day’s interviews. Most of the questions I have could be addressed by any of the interviewers.
I’ve tried coming up with as many questions as possible and asking one per person, or just asking the same questions over and over and pretending to be fascinated when I hear the same explanation the sixth time. But I’m not sure which one is right. I either seem like I don’t have many questions, or I’ll seem insincere if the interviewers compare notes.
Your questions about the work might all be the same, but if you frame the questions to allow each interviewer to discuss his or her perspective about the work, you will learn a lot, and your questions will not seem gratuitous.
If you want to send an interviewer (or all eight of them) into rapturous mental contractions, you need ask only one question:
“I’m curious. What brought you here, to this job?”
People love to talk about themselves. When you encourage them to do that, they will feel closer to you and they will be more likely to judge you as a “better candidate” because you let them talk about themselves.
Does that sound a bit glib? It’s not, if you really want the answer.
“I’m curious. What have been the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your own job?”
People love to talk about their successes. Help them do that, and you will learn a great deal. The more they talk, the more they will perceive you as being interested in their work. And that raises their estimation of you.
These suggestions stem from one of the fun facts from the world of psychology: When someone shows an interest in us, we tend to like them.
I’m not trying to teach you tricks; just a simple interpersonal skill. The key, I believe, is to ask intelligent questions that keep the interview focused on the work. Lots of intelligent questions about the work start out as questions about the interviewer. Take advantage of that.
What do you ask employers during job interviews? While ability to do the work should be an employer’s #1 concern, likeability ranks high as a reason employers make a hire.