A job interview is not solely about the interviewer grilling you to determine if you are the perfect candidate, it is also an opportunity to feel out the company and see if it is a good fit for you as well.
Just as the interviewer asks you questions to learn about you and your skills, you need to ask questions about the position, the company and your boss to make sure this job will suit you. If you are heading to an interview, this is definitely something you want to have thought about and prepared for. Lack of preparation is going to seem to the interviewer unprofessional or that you don’t really care or have a genuine interest in the company.
This article will help you prepare some great questions you can ask. It will give you some tips for creating good questions, and then list some excellent example questions to inspire you.
Asking smart and well thought through questions is going to put you in a good light and also open up more two-way communication and genuine engagement from the interviewer. It is generally going to be at the end of the interview when you will be invited to ask any questions. Not asking any questions would be a complete missed opportunity.
Make sure that you have at least three questions prepared, and 4-5 is probably good. The questions should ideally demonstrate your interest in the position, the fact you have done a bit of research into the company, industry, department, and that you are keen to engage and excel in the role.
First, some basic ground rules for preparing good questions to ask:
- Ensure that the questions are focused and open-ended
- Avoid yes or no questions. You want to open up a conversation.
- Avoid questions that are too general and difficult to answer. You don’t want to stump the interviewer when you’re trying to make a good impression and develop rapport.
- The best questions are those that lead to a back and forth discussion between you and the interviewer.
Now, how do actually come up with these questions? First, do some pre-interview research on the company, and as you go, make notes of things you want to know more about.
We suggest the following list to get you started on topics you might want to ask about:
- The Company. Who is the company overall, and how does the interviewer feel about the company? You cannot find out everything through research. What do you want to know that you can only understand by asking someone on the inside?
- The people. Who are you going to be working with on a day-to-day basis? Will you be working within a team? How many people? Now is the time to ask about who you will be spending your time with.
- The culture. What is the company culture? What kind of people, strengths does the company value? What is the dress code, if any? Do people normally work back late?
- The position. What exactly are you going to be doing in this role? There will be some information in the job ad, but there are also likely to be a lot of gaps. How long will you be doing that job, will the position evolve? Is there room for growth?
- Can you start doing the job immediately, or will there be any training required first? Is there anything else you might need to know before commencing?
- What is expected from the person in this role? How will performance be evaluated?
- The interview process. What is the next step? How long until the company will decide? Is there a specific start date?
Some Examples of Good Questions to Ask
Now here’s a list of some specific smart questions you can use to show you’re the perfect candidate to hire.
“Can you tell me more about the day-to-day activities and responsibilities in this role?”
This is your chance to learn more about what the day-to-day reality of the position will be. It can help gain more insight into what specific skills and strengths are needed. Sometimes it can open up opportunities to discuss any topics not already covered.
“Can you tell me what a typical career path in this department is and what sort of advancements I could work towards?”
This question can give you some understanding of mobility within the company. If you are seeking a career position with strong prospects of advancement, then you want to make sure it is not a role where you will be expected to simply sit in a corner and do the same thing for years, without any hope of skills improvement or advancement.
“Tell me what you think are the most important qualities required for someone to succeed in this position”
This is a good question to help you learn about the company culture, what it values and the expectations so you can show that you are a good fit. This question helps to uncover valuable information that’s perhaps not clear in the job description.
“Will I be working within a team and if I am, can you tell me a little about each of them?”
This question is very important. You do not want to be heading into a situation with a bunch of people you won’t get along with.
“How would you describe the culture of the company?”
This is key for you to understand if you are a good fit for this particular organization? It is good to hear it in a candid manner directly from an employee, even if it is the kind of company which makes its culture center in its job description and recruiting. You need to make sure you will feel comfortable with the culture and the dynamic of where you will be working.
“How would you describe the working environment here? Is work done in a collaborative style or are employees more independent?”
Similar to the last question, but you will get a little more information out of this two-part question. This is the question is more targeted to the day-to-day working style than maybe hearing about perks and break rooms. It will also give you a good heads up on some of the expectations for your own performance.
“If you could improve one thing about the company, what would it be?”
This is bold question came out of Dave Kerpen asking some Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) members what impressive questions that they had heard from interviewees.
Peter Minton explains: “By asking about where the company can improve, the interviewee not only establishes that the interview process is a two-way street but may also find out some important information to use in her decision making. If the answer given is not candid, there is information in that as well” Peter Minton, Founder & President, Minton Law Group, P.C.