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You’ve been in there for over an hour, and things seem to be going pretty well. The interview is slowly wrapping up, and you are almost ready to be on your way. And then, there it is, the last chance for you to make an impression: the question about what questions YOU have.
I’ve been through so much today, do I really need to ask the interviewer a question? you ask.
Don’t stress it – like I said, this can be a great opportunity. As long as you are prepared, that is. And luckily for you, I have all the information you need right here.
There are plenty of benefits to asking the interviewer a question or two of your own, such as:
You can see why we’re talking about this by now, can’t you? 😄
Keep reading to find out which questions to ask, which not to ask, and how to go about this task to keep the conversation pleasant while also getting valuable information and presenting yourself in a positive light.
Table of contents
As with all of the other aspects of the job application process, preparation is key. You don’t want to get stuck stuttering, trying to come up with something to say on the spot.
And that’s why you should have a few questions ready for when this part of the job interview comes up. Not sure where to start? No problem.
…follow your intuition — I mean, there must be something you want to know about the company, so jot down some quick notes about that and we’ll get back to them in a minute.
…consider how the questions you ask reflect on you as a candidate. I will get into a list of questions you should never ask a little later, but for now just try to keep in mind that, in general, me-centered questions don’t go over that well.
…boil your list of ideas for questions down to the most important ones. You should ask a maximum of 2, maybe 3 questions. Dragging this part of the interview out anymore is tedious and unnecessary.
And, last but not least…
…make sure the questions you have are not ones that have already been answered on the company’s website or are just generally available information.
Asking questions with obvious answers is a waste of everyone’s time, and worse yet, it makes you look willfully ignorant and lazy. No company wants to hire someone who can’t do a bit of their own research.
There is no one right question to ask — depending on the position you are applying for, there could be hundreds of relevant, polite options. Here are 15 I think are perfectly appropriate for any job.
What are the typical day-to-day responsibilities in this position?
This questions shows your interest and should also give you a pretty good idea of what work at this company would look like.
It can also be a subtle way of asking whether there is a lot of overtime involved, something you would want to avoid asking directly.
What are the company’s core values?
Asking this question shows the recruiter that you are concerned about the world around you, not just issues that affect you personally.
What do you like about working here?
This could lead to some very pleasant chit chat and also give you a considerable amount of useful information about the company.
If your interviewer has nothing much to say in return, however, you might want to think twice about whether you want to work there, yourself.
What kind of people tend to thrive here, and which do not do as well?
This question should help you understand whether you will fit into this new environment — if, say, the company is very traditionally hierarchical and you yourself are a very laid-back person, you may realize this is not the place for you.
How is success measured in this position?
What are the KPIs? How often are they measured? Any employee should be interested in how their performance will be assessed.
Who will I be working closest with?
Being prepared to meet your future coworkers can never hurt.
What is the most challenging aspect of the job?
Make sure you are not seeing the company through rose-colored glasses, because all that will do is set you up for disappointment.
Being prepared for more difficult tasks and situations, on the other hand, will only improve your performance!
What are you expecting me to achieve within my first 6 months?
Knowing about the learning curve awaiting you will help you adjust your other responsibilities and keep your work-life balance, well, balanced.
How is information documented and shared?
Being prepared for the tools you will need to use can’t hurt — and if it turns out you are not familiar with a specific tool, you can use the time you have before you actually start at your new company to get to know it.
Who do you consider the company’s top competitor and why?
You probably did ample research on the company before you went there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn their perspective.
What is the greatest success this team has achieved so far?
This question finally gives your interviewer the chance to brag a little about their own achievements — and who among us doesn’t like that?
What time of educational/training opportunities does the company offer?
Asking about potential educational/training opportunities shows that you are ambitious and eager to learn more about the area you’ll be working in.
What goals does the company have for the next 5 years?
This shows that you are interested in the long-haul, and it also gives you useful information about how you can expect to develop over the period of time you are with the company.
Is there anything on my resume that makes you think I am not a good fit for this role?
Asking this question can say a lot of good things about you, like that you are ready and able to deal with challenges, and that you genuinely care about getting the job. It also gives you the opportunity to resolve any misunderstandings.
BUT. As any superhero knows, with great power comes great responsibility! This question is something of a double-edged sword, so don’t ask it unless you truly feel confident enough to deal with anything that comes at you after it.
What’s your timeline for this recruitment?
Knowing when you can expect to hear back from the company will help you make decisions of your own and reduce feelings of frustration and uncertainty.
Just as asking the right questions can make you look good — competent, ambitious, curious — so too can the wrong questions make you look pretty bad and undermine your candidacy.
Sounding pushy, entitled and impatient are sure-fire ways to fail to get the job and squander all of the work you put into getting the interview in the first place.
Here are a few examples of questions to avoid.
What does your company do exactly?
Umm, what now? You just went through all that effort to get to actually get to this interview and you didn’t do the most basic research on the company?
Asking this question or anything like it makes you come off as completely unprepared and disinterested. And that’s not going to get you a job – this one or any other one.
So, did I get it?
Chances are, the recruiter does not even know this yet. Or maybe they are not even the person making the final decision. Either way, pressuring the recruiter to give you immediate answers puts them on the spot and is inappropriate and rude.
Not to mention it comes off as desperate, and as everyone who has ever been on a date knows, desperation is not an attractive trait to have.
What are the hours?
Obviously, nobody wants to be working 24/7, but asking about how much you’re going to have to work at the interview just makes it sound like you are not really up to doing much work at all.
If you really want to know a little more about the hours, maybe try a question like “What does a typical workday look like?” instead.
How long do I have to wait to get promoted?
All this question does it make it look like you are not really that interested in the position you are applying for at all, but rather whether you can use it as some sort of springboard.
Can I work from home?
If the position was meant to be a remote one, the job offer would have mentioned it. Bringing this up at the interview makes you look like you may not like working with others, don’t take supervision very well, or both.
Do you have your questions jotted down and feel ready to go? Great! Before you go, take one last, quick look at this short list of do’s and don’t to make sure you’ve avoided the most basic pitfalls.
I think it’s safe to say you are officially fully prepared for your interview now — top to bottom, beginning to end. Admit it, you feel pretty confident 😄 So get in there and give it your all, and when you get invited for round two, I’ll be waiting right here to answer your questions!