Many job seekers focus so hard on answering interview questions well that they forget something very important: You are there to ask questions, too.
Asking the right questions at an interview is important for two reasons:
First, when done correctly, the questions you ask confirm your qualifications as a candidate for the position.
Second, you are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you. This is your opportunity to find out if this is an organization where you want to work.
3 Things You Want to Achieve
When you ask the right questions, you want to achieve three things:
- Make sure the interviewer has no reservations about you.
- Demonstrate your interest in the employer.
- Find out if you feel the employer is the right fit for you.
There are an infinite number of questions you could ask during a job interview, but if you stay focused on those three goals, the questions should come easy to you.
I recommend preparing three to five questions for each interview, and actually ask three of them. (I like to have more prepared than is needed because some of my questions might be answered in the course of the interview.)
Here are 10 interview questions you could ask, and why:
1. What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate? This is a great open-ended question that will have the interviewer put his or her cards on the table and state exactly what the employer is looking for. If the interviewer mentions something you didn’t cover yet, now is your chance.
2. What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem? This question not only shows that you are immediately thinking about how you can help the team, it also encourages the interviewer to envision you working at the position.
3. What have you enjoyed most about working here? This question allows the interviewer to connect with you on a more personal level, sharing his or her feelings. The
answer will also give you unique insight into how satisfied people are with their jobs there. If the interviewer is pained to come up with an answer to your question, it’s a big red flag.
4. What constitutes success at this position and this firm or nonprofit? This question shows your interest in being successful there, and the answer will show you both how to get ahead and whether it is a good fit for you.
5. Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? I love this question because it’s gutsy. Also, you’ll show that you’re confident in your skills and abilities.
6. Do you offer continuing education and professional training? This is a great positioning question, showing that you are interested in expanding your knowledge and ultimately growing with the employer.
7. Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with? Notice how the question is phrased; it assumes you will get the job. This question also tells you about the people you will interact with on a daily basis, so listen to the answer closely.
8. What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth? This question should be customized for your particular needs. Do your homework on the employer’s site beforehand and mention a new product or service it’s launching to demonstrate your research and interest. The answer to the question will give you a good idea of where the employer is headed.
9. Who previously held this position? This seemingly straightforward question will tell you whether that person was promoted or fired or if he/she quit or retired. That, in turn, will provide a clue to whether: there’s a chance for advancement, employees are unhappy, the place is in turmoil or the employer has workers around your age.
10. What is the next step in the process? This is the essential last question and one you should definitely ask. It shows that you’re interested in moving along in the process and invites the interviewer to tell you how many people are in the running for the position.
With luck, the answer you’ll hear will be: There is no next step, you’re hired!