Getting a job interview is a culmination of your hard work in searching for a job, so take a moment to be excited! Creating a resume and spending time scrolling through job listings can feel like a job in itself, so take a moment to celebrate the win.
You might experience some anxiety, especially if this is a job you are looking forward to, but the interview isn’t totally beyond your scope of control. You can dress up, put your best foot forward, and ask the interviewer your own series of questions.
It is true that a job interview is an opportunity for the organization to get to know more about their final candidates for the position, but it is also an opportunity for you to shine and gather valuable information.
Interviewing is not a one-sided conversation, it’s a two-way exchange of information. This means you should take the opportunity to not only answer their questions thoughtfully but ask some of your own.
There are specific questions you can ask the interviewer that may even help you land the job! This is your chance to impress the hiring manager with how prepared you are, while simultaneously gathering your own intel so you can make an informed decision when you are offered the job.
Why is asking questions such an important part of the interview process?
There are several reasons why asking the interviewer or hiring manager questions is beneficial, beyond just gathering information. Taking the time to come up with well-thought-out and specific questions proves you are interested in the job. Just developing a series of questions demonstrates you put in extra effort, versus someone who did the minimum of showing up for the interview and left at the earliest moment.
Your interview questions should show that you did some research into the company. You will want to avoid asking a question that a simple Google search would answer and instead invest some time in digging a little deeper.
When doing this research, be sure to come up with questions that pertain to the role you are interviewing for. You can use anything you learn to frame a question or answer one of their questions more thoroughly than someone who did not prepare as well.
Beyond showing interest and an ability to use resources, asking the right interview questions also shows the hiring manager you are intelligent. Intelligence is a sought-after trait, regardless of the position you are applying for.
The questions you ask give the interviewer a glimpse into how you think and prove that you take initiative and think independently. Intelligence, the ability to use resources, and think independently offer the interviewer an opportunity to see how you might apply the goals of the organization to genuine work situations.
Regarding a study on intelligence in the workplace, Professor Eugenio Proto, of the Department of Economics at the University of Bristol, said: “People might naturally presume that people who are nice, conscientious and generous are automatically more co-operative. But, through our research, we find overwhelming support for the idea that intelligence is the primary condition for a socially cohesive, cooperative society.
A good heart and good behavior have an effect too, but it’s transitory and small. An additional benefit of higher intelligence in our experiment, and likely in real life, is the ability to process information faster, hence to accumulate more extensive experience, and to learn from it. This scenario can be applied to the workplace where it’s likely that intelligent people who see the bigger picture and work cooperatively, will ultimately be promoted and financially rewarded.”
Asking questions does more than just impress the person or people interviewing you. You want to ask questions that will help you gather information, so you can be sure this is actually the job you think it is. This is your chance to make an informed decision about how you will fit within the company’s culture.
Making sure you clearly understand what management expects, how they view their role in the industry, and what they expect from you can help ensure you end up working somewhere that is a good fit for you, which could save you months (or years) of angst and having to repeat the job search process again in the near future.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” — Arthur Ashe
Which questions should you ask?
Questions about the company itself will help you learn more about the mission of the organization. These questions will give you insight into the overall culture, and should also include some questions about the team.
The questions you ask should be specific to the job you are applying for. You also want to show an interest in the interviewer and ask questions that show you are interested in getting to know them as a person.
Your questions should also inquire about training and development opportunities, and how they view performance. Finally, take a moment to inquire about the steps and process following the interview.
Best questions to ask about the company:
- What aspects of the company’s future are you most excited about?
- I’ve read about the company’s (add something specific here like the founder, mission, or history) but can you tell me more about…?
- Is the company working on a new product or growth plan, or another project?
Questions that relate specifically to team culture:
- What kind of team-building activities or exercises does the team take part in, and how often?
- Are there any office traditions or funny stories I should know about?
- What would you say is different about the team culture here than other places you have worked at?
These questions will help you figure out the dynamics of the team:
- How long has the team worked together?
- Who will I report to directly?
- What would you say are the team’s greatest strengths, and what opportunities does the team have for growth?
- What does a normal day in the role look like?
- What are the biggest challenges that whoever you bring into this position would face during their first six months?
- What do you think is the most important attribute someone needs to have in order to be successful in the role?
Get to know the person interviewing you a little better:
- What was it about this company that made you decide to come work here?
- How has your position developed in the time you have been here?
- What accomplishment or contribution to the company are you most proud of?
Questions about training and development:
- What opportunities for advancement or professional development are offered, and encouraged, by the company?
- Where have successful employees who previously held this position progressed to within the organization?
- How long is training and what method of training will be used?
Questions that show how performance is viewed or measured:
- Is there a formal review process here? How often can I expect a formal review versus feedback from my supervisor?
- What KPI’s or metrics will be used to gauge performance?
- What specific things would you like to see accomplished in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
What happens now:
- Is there anything else I can provide you with? (And then let them know what you have to offer, such as more references or a letter of recommendation.)
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- Do you have any additional questions for me?
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” — H. Jackson Brown
Obviously, you don’t want to ask all of these questions, as that would take a significant amount of time. Look through each category and pick the one that is most important or of interest to you. Consider what their answers might be, and jot down anything that you consider being a red flag, or something you might want them to expand further. Take the time to come up with a follow-up answer based on their potential responses.
Just remember this is not only their chance to get to know you but also your opportunity to make sure this is somewhere you want to work. The interview is one of those times in your employment cycle where you hold a lot of the power as a top candidate. You have options and they need to convince you that they are the best place for you to come work for.
Know your worth, your skills, and what sets you apart from the pack. Don’t be afraid to shine and ask questions that will give you the information you need and impress your potential future employer.