It’s important to remember that every interview is a two-way street. You should be interviewing the employer just as much as they’re interviewing you because you both need to walk away convinced that the job would be a great fit.
So, when the tables are turned and the interview asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” take advantage of this opportunity. It’s the best way to determine if you’d be happy working for this employer, and whether your goals are aligned with theirs.
“The very process of asking questions completely changes the dynamic of the interview and the hiring manager’s perception of you,” says Teri Hockett, chief executive of What’s For Work?, a career site for women. “Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to discover details that you might not have otherwise unveiled.”
Amy Hoover, president of TalentZoo, says there’s another reason you should always prepare questions. “It’s expected — and if you don’t ask at least two questions, you will appear disinterested, or worse, less intelligent and engaged than a prospective employer would like.” You should have at least four questions prepared, though, in case your original two are answered through the course of the interview.
But, Hoover says, don’t just ask questions for the sake of it. To actually benefit from them, you’ll need to think carefully about what you want to ask.
“Your questions can, in fact, make or break an interview,” she explains. “If they’re not thoughtful, or if you ask something that has already been addressed, this can hurt you way more than it can help. Asking smart, engaging questions is imperative.”
Here are 11 questions you should always ask in a job interview, if they weren’t already answered, to help you get a better sense of the role and the company, and to help you prepare for the next steps:
- Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
- Who held this position previously? Why is he/she leaving the role?
- What do you like most about working for this company?
- Can you walk me through the typical day of someone in this role?
- How do you evaluate success here?
- How would you describe the company’s culture?
- Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my staff/my manager during the interview process?
- Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?
- What distinguishes this company from its competitors?
- Is there anyone else I need to meet with?/Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?
- What’s your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
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