The Interview

Asking questions during the interview

While answering questions is a significant portion of the interview, your ability to ask effective questions is just as important.

Selling yourself through questions

Your questions provide an opportunity to position yourself favorably in their eyes. You can do this by asking questions that encourage employers to envision you as an important member of their team. There is a strategy to asking questions that can play an integral part in your success as an interviewee.

A great question to ask is, "If selected for this internship, what will I need to accomplish to receive an outstanding review?" This question makes the interviewer envision you in the company and as a top performer. You actually make that person "see" you as great in order to answer the question.

Asking effective questions can also help you learn about hard to research aspects of the organization. It is difficult to learn about an organization's culture from corporate literature, external research or the company's website. Ask questions that elicit information on culture and full time offers to help you assess if this is the right internship for you.

If you want to know about the culture, you could ask:

  • Who is the most successful intern you've hired and what characteristics did that person possess that made him/her a great contributor?
  • Tell me about some of the employees that have the longest tenure here and what, in your opinion, has made them so loyal to the company?
  • Who in the organization would you say best personifies the culture of the company and why?
  • How would you describe the company's management style and culture?
  • How many interns do you traditionally hire into full time positions?

Notice these are all very positive questions designed to offer insight about corporate culture and who the powerful people in the organization are and why. It is great information to know so that you can observe and learn from them if offered a position.

Do's and don'ts when asking questions

Do:

  • Ask for a business card
  • Ask "How do you go about..." questions
  • Ask what the next steps in the selection process are and the best way to follow up
  • Ask if there is anything you can do to improve your candidacy
  • Ask positive, future-focused questions that incorporate you into the company

Don't:

  • Ask yes/no questions
  • Ask negative questions
  • Ask about salary
  • Ask questions you know nothing about
  • Leave without asking some questions