Forget the usual metaphor and listen to me; an interview is like a dance.

Each partner moves and hopes that the other follows them to work in perfect harmony. When the interviewer asks a question, the candidate will try to answer it to the best of their ability and hope that they made the correct move. In such a delicate situation, how do you know the right questions to ask in an interview?

There are two viewpoints we need to look at and the first is from the interviewer. When you are questioning potential candidates, your goal is to learn as much about the person in as little time as possible. You need to assess their character, understand their background, learn about their capability, and predict how they could fit in to the job and company. Easy, right? In order to successfully interview candidates, there is some background research that you need to do. A good employee is knowledgeable about the history and origin of the company as well as its culture. It also is important to understand why a candidate is looking for a new job.

This is not the opportunity to demean people who are unemployed or recently fired because there are no simple reasons, but you should know what are the circumstances that a candidate wants a new job and for what reasons they applied for the one you posted. Without going into too much detail, you also clearly want to learn about the new hire’s work ethic and the kind of skills, training, and innate characteristics bring to a job. Fill in the blanks from above by asking the right questions.

If you are a candidate, there are some important questions you need to ask your interviewer to see if you are interested in the position you applied for. It is important that you do some research about the company and ask the interviewer questions to confirm the public information they have released.

What is the culture in the office?
What is the demographic of the employees?
Your questions should give you an idea of how you fit in at the office and how well suited you are for the job. Once you situate yourself in the company, now you need to see how the interviewer fits in.

Ask them questions about their experiences.
How long have they been in their position or with the company?
Do they often see people being promoted from within or are their more outside hires?

They have a wealth of knowledge that is just sitting in front of you. Do not take this opportunity for granted!  Asking the right questions is not a hard task. Take your partner’s hand and dance with them as you both ask what each of you wants to know. Do not be fooled because there are wrong questions. There is no reason to make things uncomfortable and ask about overly personal details. Instead, focus on getting to know each other through your interests and characteristics to see if you may find your perfect match.