5 questions to ask in your first job interview

The questions round of the job interview is the most important, showing how much you want the job and how strategic your thinking is. Interviewers will use this to assess your suitability for the role. This can be challenging for fresh grads since answering questions at a job interview is nerve-wrecking enough! Not asking any questions or asking bad questions at a job interview will make you seem unprepared or not interested. Here are five foolproof questions to ask in your first job interview.

1. Ask about key projects and challenges

As a fresh graduate, you may feel that you’re just going to be hired as a cog in the machine. It’s all the more important to know how your skills and your role fit into the larger picture. Asking about key projects and challenges for your department and company to know what problems you’re expected to solve and what’s most important for the company. It helps you to reflect upon your skills mastery and contributions.

By the end of the first round of your first interview, you might still not have the clearest picture of the exact tasks for the role. It could be a strategic or even a functional role. You’ll still need to understand the larger picture to know what you’re ploughing for, especially for newly created roles, such as in startups.  

Taking it a step further to asking about challenges for the company helps you understand industry trends as a newcomer. Gain a deeper understanding of where the company is moving towards and what roadblocks are expected. This helps you to highlight what you’re bringing to the table, affirming your fit for the role.

2. Ask about plans for growth and development

Besides looking at your ability to tackle short-term key problems and aims set out in the next year or so, the company needs to make sure that you are the right hire long-term. Ask about future growth plans to show your interest and drive in seizing opportunities. You get to decide if this is what you want to be in for the long run, and if it’s in line with your personal career objectives!

(Pro-tip: It would be ideal if the interviewer can highlight to you employee training initiatives and employee growth plans at this stage. Though the general sense in Asia, including Singapore, is such that it’s more appropriate to ask what the company needs of you, and show you can contribute, instead of what the company is giving to you in return.)

3. Ask about the qualities or background expected

 

Although the job description (JD) contains a list of tasks and sometimes qualities expected of the individual, asking the interviewer for their expectations face-to-face gives a more accurate picture. A lot of information is also communicated between the lines and from the body language of interviewers. However, rather than speculating the interviewers’ sense of reservations or confidence about your qualifications and abilities, you can go ahead to ask them of their assessment of your fit. Do it confidently with a smile, and listen with an open mind before you go on to emphasise your suitability 😉

4. Ask about day-to-day responsibilities

Taking the JD as a mere guide, interviewers will better match responsibilities for you according to your background and expertise after they have gotten to know you better or by looking at your resume, picking out your individual strengths and expertise. For instance, if you’re applying for a sales role but have a degree in Marketing, the hiring manager will be likely to ‘appoint’ you as the marketing liaison of the department.

5. Ask what’s next

Figure out the next steps and the company’s hiring timeline. Do wait for them to state their interest in hiring you before you begin salary negotiation.

To conclude, highlight your qualities, skills, and experience. You can also ask specific questions based on what was brought up during the interview or from your research. This shows you’re a thinker, not just a doer!  Don’t forget to end the interview on a good note and leave the room smiling as that is contagious 🙂

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