Product Manager acting like a clown

As a Marketing Recruiter, I often find that well-prepared candidates work hard on having smart, concise responses to interview questions.  What they often fail to do is have good insightful questions for the interviewer.  Everyone knows that asking if Arbor Day is a company holiday is a terrible question.  But what candidates often ask are questions that do nothing to advance their candidacy.  They will ask questions like “What’s it like to work here?” or “What can you tell me about the team?”.  Both fair questions but anyone could have asked them.Marketing Recruiting Clown

Smart cand idates recognize that the interviewer is still assessing whether the candidate has the requisite functional skills, experience, and interest to be successful in the role.  Candidates should leverage their questions to demonstrate their functional expertise, directly relevant experiences and interest in the role, company, industry, etc.  For example, say one is interviewing to be a senior product manager at a digital health company.  Based upon the candidate’s knowledge of the industry and past experience they know that the company’s product could reach a whole new market.  The candidate could ask “Based upon my experience in the industry and my research on your product it appears that with a few added features, the product would do well in the X market.  Has the company considered adding this into the product roadmap?”

Through this question, the candidate just demonstrated industry experience, functional knowledge, and interest in the company.  Moreover, they did so in a way that is likely to spark a conversation.  That my friends are when the magic happens during the interview process.  After all, a great interview should feel like a great conversation between colleagues because it addresses the most important question an interviewer wants to answer which is “Can I stand being around this person 50 hours a week?”

Next time you interview try to have 4 or 5 questions prepared that illustrate your functional expertise, industry savvy and passion for the role.  They should help you to create more of a connection to the interviewer and help them to be able to envision you in the role.  If by chance you exhaust those questions, you can always say something like “Of course I have more questions, but I want to be respectful of your time.  I would love to ask those questions during a subsequent interview.”  Trust me, having multitudes of questions is more likely to knockout a candidacy than advance it.

So, just because the interviewer asks you if have any questions, they are not done interviewing you.  They are still assessing if you are the “right” candidate based upon the questions you ask.