The best interviews are conversations. They’re also your chance to get to know the company and your potential boss, and figure out if the job is a good fit for you. That’s why, as an interviewee, asking the right questions is crucial.
The Two-Way Interview
A job interview should not consist of the hiring company’s interviewers grilling you with question after question from beginning to end. Yes, there will – and should be – some of that, as they need to understand your skills and personality as well as possible. But they realize an interview is also your time to get to know their business, management style, and personality (personalities if it’s a group interview); they know it’s fair for you to ask them questions. Not to mention, they can glean quite a bit about your desires and know-how based on your questions. Asking smart, pointed questions about their culture, the job role, growth opportunities, and more tells them you’re serious and thoughtful – interested in creating a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship. Every single interview should, to some extent, be two-way.
In addition to displaying how serious and thoughtful you are, asking the right questions can result in the following:
- Getting noticed and standing out from your competition
- The opportunity to extend the interview, further making a lasting impression
- Important information that can’t be Googled
- Insight into what the interviewer thinks of you
- The chance to correct any misperceptions and reservations that the interviewer may have about hiring you
As the interviewee, job seeker, job candidate, or whatever you prefer to call yourself, it’s on you to ask these questions. Yes, the interviewers may implicitly or explicitly prompt you to ask questions, but the responsibility is still on you. Whether in the flow of the natural conversation mid interview, or at interview’s end, ensure you fit them in.
Best job candidate questions to ask in an interview
Now that we’ve convinced you that asking questions during your interview is important, here are some top questions to ask any employer. These will help you keep the conversation going, collect some important information about the job, decide if this is someplace you want to work, and – perhaps most importantly – impress your potential employer. Take a look.
- What major improvements and setbacks have your company undergone?
- Who are your major competitors? How do they stack up against you in terms of strengths and weaknesses?
- How will this role/position help the company achieve its main goals?
- Tell me about a typical day.
- What qualities do your top people exhibit?
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts about working here?
- How do you see me fitting in with your company?
- How do I compare with other qualified candidates?
- When can I return and meet some of the people on the team?
- Can I take a look at the rest of the office/workplace?
Worst job candidate questions to ask in an interview
On the other hand, here are some questions you should never ask an employer during an interview. Think of them as too controversial, extreme, or pushy for nearly any set of interview circumstances. Some might even make you seem altogether clueless.
- What’s your company do?
- What’s your name?
- Can you tell I’m nervous?
- Didn’t I put that in my resume?
- Didn’t I say that in my cover letter?
- Are you happy with your pay?
- Are you happy with your benefits?
- What do you hate about working here?
- When will this be over?
- I have to run; can we wrap this up?
One last question
OK, now you have a general idea of what types of questions to ask – and not ask – during your interview. But there’s one more point we want to make, and it has to do with yet another question. Make 100% sure you don’t exit the interview without asking this:
Or, “when can I expect to hear from you,” or something similar.
This sets the expectation that you will communicate again, regardless of the step (another interview, a job offer, a polite decline, etc.), within a specific timeframe, giving both parties something to live up to – and perhaps look forward to!
Need more interview advice? We have plenty of it. Here are some tips for being confident. Here’s how to answer questions that you will likely be asked. And here’s how to write the perfect follow-up note.
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