Questions candidates should be asking in interviews


It’s graduation time! And while many [fortunate] graduates may have already secured a full-time job, others have most likely discovered that landing that first job out of college isn’t as easy they thought it would be – and it often takes more than one or two interviews to get there.


While knowledge and experience certainly matter to hiring managers, the way candidates tackle the interview can actually make or break the decision to hire them. You can find a number of “tips for interviewing success” on the internet, but we wanted to spotlight and dig deeper into one of our favorites: Make sure to ask questions of your own during the interview.


Asking questions shows a candidate’s interest in the position, company or even the interviewer herself, which is a positive thing for the interviewer to see. This also allows candidates to gain additional insight into the inner workings of the company, which can help them decide if they would enjoy working there as well.


At Obsidian, our interview process actually includes a team interview – where our entire team gets the chance to meet and interview any candidate for a position at Obsidian. For us, this is an important element of our firm culture. Before we add to the team, we want to make sure that new person is going to be a good fit for our team dynamic.


And, since we recently added three new interns and a new account executive at Obsidian, our crew has been through a number of those team interviews recently. So, I surveyed them for the questions they love to hear candidates ask in interviews.


While many referred to questions about culture, which is definitely something every candidate should ask about, they each had their unique take on why they want to hear candidates asking that and other questions.


Taylor Jolley, an account specialist at Obsidian, noted: “I like when potential team members ask about culture. I think that it shows that the candidate is interested in investing in the team personally and professionally.”


Another account specialist, Murray Lace, noted that she appreciates when candidates ask her why she chose to work at Obsidian. And, she also offers this question as a good one for candidates to learn from: “What are some of the biggest challenges people have faced in the position I’m interviewing for?”


Similar to Murray’s first favorite question, Whitney Albert – an account manager on the team – says: “I think it’s great when candidates ask how we wound up at Obsidian. It seems like candidates (especially younger ones) get a lot of value out of hearing our individual career backgrounds and what we’ve learned along the way. I feel like that gives them a more realistic grasp of what it’s like to work in this industry (what they don’t really explain to you in college).”


For Gracie Lee, an account assistant who started as a Level 2 intern at Obsidian, it’s a good sign when a candidate asks about growth and professional development opportunities at Obsidian.


Our long-timers on the team – who have been through countless team interviews during their tenure at Obsidian – have some interesting insight, as well.


Kelli Brignac, who joined Obsidian in 2011, says: “I like when they ask us questions about what we do for our clients specifically. This shows that they have not only looked at who our clients are, but they’ve also noticed our work somehow – in the news, on social media or somewhere else.”


For Obsidian’s director of client services, Crissy Lintner (who manages our team and has been with Obsidian since 2008), she appreciates the question, “What is a typical day like?” She says, “This is important to me because we can really express the fast-paced environment of an agency and the dynamics of the position they are applying for.”


Obsidian’s newest account executive, Christina Babu, agrees. Christina added: “The candidate should inquire about everyday operations and how the team works together on projects. A serious candidate should want to understand the process of how work gets done and be able to visualize herself in the specific role beforehand so she knows what she’s signing up for.”


And, what does the firm’s owner, Courtney Ellett (who makes the final hiring decisions), say? She values those more insightful questions from candidates, such as “Why do your clients love working with you?” and “Why do clients choose OPR?” She also adds: “I love when candidates ask our team members about a favorite recent project or that person’s favorite client. And, I love when they ask me personally how I started the company.”


So, now anyone has the tools to nail an interview at Obsidian for sure, but certainly, this provides insight that can be taken into an interview with any company. Happy interviewing!