What Questions to Ask in an Interview

What Questions to Ask in an Interview: Strategies for your questions during an interview

Last weekend the times published this interview with Marc Cendella the founder and CEO of TheLadders.com.  It is a very enjoyable interview and Mr. Cendella clearly has some hard won insights on how to run a company and create a strong corporate culture.  I enjoyed his admission that as CEO he must pull great ideas from his employees and harness the direction of their enthusiasm as opposed   to mandating a predefined direction.

I particularly enjoyed reading about the advice he gives regarding what questions job seekers should ask at the end of the interview.  Cendella recommends this question – “How do I help you get a gold star in your review next year?”  I love it – here’s why…

Did anyone every say to you that when you go on an interview YOU are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you?  Well, that is the biggest bunch of horse dookie I have ever heard. To be clear, the ONLY time you get to interview a perspective employer is when they offer you a job – not before.

More importantly the questions you ask communicate something about you.  For example – When someone asks “Is there a lot of overtime on this job?” From this question I could assume that the candidate wants the opportunity to work overtime, or possibly more likely, will assume that they want to work their scheduled hours and not a moment more.  Further, since they can only ask a couple questions, it suggests that leaving on time is a major issue for them.  So, when you are on an interview it is critical that you use your questions to communicate something powerful about who you are and where your energy is focused.

This is why I am so fond of Mr. Cendella’s question. What manager wouldn’t want an employee who is focused on them getting a great evaluation?  I sure as heck would.

So here are some guidelines on crafting interview questions

  • Avoid questions for curiosity’s sake – make each question count.
  • Look at what you want to communicate about yourself – craft questions that will leave your interviewer with that impression.
  • Don’t use questions as a prompt for saying more about yourself (e.g. “what are you looking for in an employee?   Well here is how I am that person!”) That will often annoy the interviewer.
  • Keep your eye on finding information that will give you insights about how you can be more effective as an employee.  You will learn a lot about the culture of the company and send a powerful message about yourself.
  • Remember you don’t want to come across as a suck up – so make sure your question doesn’t go too overboard in conveying your desire to make them look good.

Hope this is helpful and happy job searching.

Peter Laughter


Wall Street Services