8 questions to ask in a job interview that will make you look smart

Question curious ask woman worker
These questions will really impress the hiring manager. Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Job interviews aren’t just about answering questions.

You can further your case by asking sharp questions, too.

“In a job interview, you want to appear smart and on top of your game,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job.” “The questions you ask link directly to your perceived level of intelligence — and they’re an employer’s preview of your level of savvy if you were to be hired, as well. Well-thought-out inquiries can lead to meaningful, engaging dialog between you and the hiring manager, which can land you the job — and which can ultimately be life-changing.”

But what specific questions will really set you apart?

Here are a few that Taylor says will make you come across as intelligent and prepared in any job interview:

1. ‘What qualities are you looking for in an ideal candidate?’

“You’ve already read the job description, and maybe you’ve had a quick verbal discussion before the interview,” she says. “But there are other nuances and details you’ll pick up by asking this face-to-face. There may be specific business or technical skills needs that arise in the conversation. Soft skills, such as leadership abilities, a need to work independently or as a team member, could also come up.”

2. ‘What do you like about working here?’

This question highlights your enthusiasm and your curiosity.

“Yes, it’s flattering, but it also shows a genuine interest in others — versus the classic trap of a ‘me oriented’ job interview,” she says. “Asking this question can break the ice and get the interviewer engaged because they’re talking about themselves. Job interviews are not always 100% comfortable for hiring managers, either.”

3. ‘What would like to see accomplished in the first (month, 6 months, year)?’

“This shows you’re an enthusiastic can-do, goal setter who thinks strategically, proceeds at a fast pace and is results-oriented,” Taylor says.

4. ‘Can you describe the team I’d be working with?’

Taylor says that this question proves you’re a strong team player, a key component of emotional intelligence.

“Seamlessly fitting into established teams is a plus for most employers,” she says. “It’s a smart question because you want to know more about the players, too.”

If you want to really impress the hiring manager, ask them if you can meet some of your potential team members (but save that query for the end of the interview).

5. ‘What support does the company give the team to help them succeed and grow with the company?’

“Asking this demonstrates you’re interested in learning, taking on more responsibility over time, and staying with the company,” she says. “It also reveals how the company supports its people and if they’re interested in expansion.”

6. ‘What would my typical workday be like?’

“This question can help clarify responsibilities and help you decide if this is a good fit for you,” Taylor says. “It facilitates the hiring manager being able to drill down to real job duties versus leaving things more vague, as in a job description.”

7. ‘How does this job fit into the overall mission of the company?’

“By asking this, you’re letting the interviewer know you’re strategic. think in terms of the big picture. and have leadership potential,” Taylor says. “It shows that you’re interested in doing the best job for the larger good of the company.”

You can also ask about the company’s growth strategy, to showcase your entrepreneurial smarts.

“It shows you’re interested in the long-term health of the company and want to participate in it,” she says. “Ask further how your position fits into that strategy.”

8. ‘How would you define success in this position?’

“This question is wise to ask because it shows you’re performance and results-driven,” Taylor says. “It suggests that if you go off-track, you’ll do what it takes to readjust and meet the needs of the department and company. Commitment and drive to succeed are coveted traits.”

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