Thoughtful Questions Can Separate You From Other Job Candidates

Thoughtful Questions Can Separate You From Other Job Candidates
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Congratulations, you got the interview! Now, time to ace it – and one of the best ways to rise above the pack is asking thoughtful questions when the prospective employer asks for your feedback.


What Not to Ask

While this is your opportunity to assess the organization, you are still in the “hot seat.” So don’t set yourself apart negatively by asking something that can easily be found on the internet, was already addressed, or that is inappropriate, such as salary- and benefits-related questions: The person (or people) with whom you are interviewing may not have visibility on your offer, anyway.  


[RELATED: Here’s How to Ask the Right Questions in Your Next Job Interview]


While your compensation package is a critical part of your decision-making, it is typically more advantageous for you to be as far into the interview process as possible – having the offer in hand, for example – before bringing it up. Be patient, and resist the urge to address the topic if the employer has not.


Do This Instead

Experts suggest the best questions for the candidate to pose during the interview are focused on the following aspects of the position:

  • The role
  • The team
  • The organization (things that are not publicly known)
  • Performance (career progression, development opportunities, etc.)


Additionally, the way you ask the question can be very influential. By personalizing the question, you force the interviewer to imagine you in that role. For example, instead of, “What are the near-term priorities for this role?” ask, “What would my near-term priorities be in this role?”


Check out this Harvard Business Review article for more questions to ask during your interview.


[RELATED: Before Your Next Job Interview, Be Ready With the ‘Why’]


Don’t Take Things Personally

If the interview was scheduled for an hour and there are only five minutes left, ask only the one or two questions that are most important to you. Be tolerant of impatience or multitasking – your interview is just one of several items on the interviewer’s to-do list that day.


Interviewing can be stressful, but when you are well-prepared – to include thoughtful, personalized questions – you are setting yourself up for success. And remember, if you are not selected, you can choose to think of the experience as failure, or you can choose to believe the role is not a good fit. It is up to you!


For more information on interview preparation, best practices, salary negotiation, and more, visit MOAA’s suite of transition services and resources. You will find links to webinars and workshops, along with member-exclusive items such as LinkedIn profile reviews, résumé critiques, and career counseling/coaching. And check out the MOAA Events page to enroll in upcoming offerings.


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About the Author

Cmdr. Erin Cardinal, USN (Ret), ACC, CPC
Cmdr. Erin Cardinal, USN (Ret), ACC, CPC

Cardinal is MOAA's Program Director, Transition Services & Family Programs. She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and has extensive experience in coaching servicemembers through their transition from active duty to the civilian sector.