by Sara Pacelle
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"Judge a man by his questions, not by his answers."



-Voltaire

The questions you ask in interviews are just as important as the answers you give, so in preparing for your interview, make sure you ask strategic questions that always enhance and sell your personal brand. Your questions will say alot about you and choosing them wisely is an opportunity to control the conversation and craft your personal branding. The entire interview is about selling yourself to the hiring manager.  You will have plenty of time to ask your real questions once an offer is extended.

Here are my thoughts on questions to ask.  You can ask about recent projects or deals that the company or the interviewer’s group has completed.  It demonstrates that you are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the company.  This requires company research, online or through personal or industry networking.  Of course, hold off on any salary questions until after you are given an offer.   In fact, if you are asked that question, try to fend it off as you would like to wait until you have more complete information and are able to consider the entire package, role, compensation and benefits. 

Other questions to ask might be about general industry trend questions and how the company is affected by them.  Be careful here, especially if you suspect that that may be the company’s Achilles heel.  On that line, avoid questions about the financial health of the company.  You can do your own research about company financials in the public domain, particularly if they are a public company.  However, and this is important if the company is a start-up, you would want to ask about their financials because you have that added risk.  Asking these financial questions reflects that you are savvy about the company and its opportunities and risks.

You can also get more personal with the interviewer by inquiring why they joined the company, what projects they have most enjoyed and about their own career path.  This shows interest in the interviewer as a person and is relationship building.

In selling yourself, you never want to ask questions whose answers you can find online or are self-serving.  Your own personal career advancement is not of interest to the hiring manager, so don’t put a lot of focus on that.  You will be hired to do the current job and stressing “what’s the next step for me?” doesn’t show enthusiasm in the present role.  You might ask where the company would see you in say, five years, because that reflects that you see the long-term opportunity of the position, are forward-thinking and a commitment to the company.