The questions YOU ask during a job interview are just as important as the answers you give.
Knowing which questions to ask at a job interview can be tricky. Sure, you’ve prepped your answers to their probing questions. They’re word-perfect. But the questions you need to ask? That’s a different matter.
It can be all too easy to get towards the end of a job interview and not ask any questions. Because, let’s face it, all you probably want to know is ‘have I got the job?’ and ‘how much will it pay?’ But the questions you ask your prospective employer are crucial.
‘Asking good questions can help you stand out from the crowd, show your interest and illustrate that you’re the right fit,’ says Jane Sunley, author of It’s Never OK To Kiss The Interviewer. ‘They’re also an opportunity to deal with any reservations the interviewer might have and to clear up any uncertainties you might have about the role or company.’
So, do your homework. Here are 10 key questions to ask at a job interview:
1. How do you see this role progressing over the next two years?
‘This is especially great if you’re joining a start-up or a growing company,’ says Rachel Spedding, Director at Bright Network. ‘It also suggests that you are looking at the long-term.’
2. What do you think are the biggest challenges for the person in this role and for the organisation as a whole?
‘This shows you are direct and savvy,’ says Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management. ‘It also demonstrates that you’re not afraid to tackle a problem head-on.’
3. How large is the team I’ll be working with? Which other teams would I be working with?
‘A dream job can quickly turn into a nightmare if you dislike those you’re working with or if you don’t fit into the company culture,’ says James Reed, chairman of Reed.co.uk. ‘These questions help you assess how you’ll fit in with your immediate colleagues and help present you as a team player.’
4. What could I do to make this company more successful?
‘Every business leader and manager is continually asking this question of themselves, so to hear it from a potential employee feels like they have reached in your head and plucked out your deepest business wishes,’ says Richard Harris, founder of leading tutoring agency TutorDesk. ‘This question shows you understand that the business is there to grow and flourish, and that you intuitively want to help.’
5. What would success look like to you in three months?
‘This will help you to understand their expectations, but also shows that you are objective-driven,’ says Rachel Spedding.
6. What’s the best thing about working for the company? How has the company changed since you joined?
‘Not everyone likes interviewing people,’ says James Reed. ‘Nor is everyone an expert at it. These questions can help loosen up the interviewer and create a closer personal bond.’
7. I read in X that Y is happening. How will this affect your business?
‘Read everything you can about the company you’re joining and see what their competitors are doing,’ says Rachel Spedding. ‘It will mark you out from other candidates and show understanding.’
8. As my manager, what’s your approach and how do you like to work with your staff?
‘How wonderful to be asked by the candidate how you want your staff to work with you,’ says Corinne Mills. ‘A winning interview question if ever there was one.’
9. What skills/qualities are needed to succeed in this role? What sort of candidates do you find thrive in this environment?
‘These questions indicate you’ve been paying careful attention,’ says James Reed. ‘Everyone appreciates being listened to. If there’s an area where you feel you’ve excelled that your interviewer hasn’t addressed then your choice of question can be used to direct the conversation. For example, you could ask whether a specific characteristic or skill is important for the role? If the interviewer responds positively you’ve just created an opening to explain your qualifications and experience in that area in more detail.’
And the is the question to ask at the START of your interview…
10. ‘How did this position develop?’
This is a good conversation starter on your end, says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.
‘It demonstrates intellectual curiosity, yet isn’t intrusive or brash. It’s also helpful to let the hiring manager talk, as you gather some history on the position. You’ll get some insight on whether the opening is due to turnover or growth, for example.’