By Gerald Walsh ©
Whenever I ask a job candidate “Do you have any questions for me?” and they say they don’t, I am always disappointed.
That’s because they’ve lost a good opportunity to sell themselves a little further. They’ve also lost the chance to find out more about the job and to determine if it is the right fit for them.
You should always prepare at least five questions in advance and ask three of them. (You should prepare more questions than needed because some of your questions may be answered during the interview.)
Here are several examples of the best questions you can ask in an interview:
Have I answered all your questions? This is a great way to start. The interviewer will appreciate your offer and may ask you to clarify a point you made earlier. For sure, it will give you an indication of how well you’re doing.
What are the key responsibilities of the position? This is an opportunity to learn more details about the job so you can make an informed decision about whether the job matches your skills and interests.
What are the biggest challenges of the job? This question will help you uncover their problem areas and figure out how you can help them.
How would you describe the ideal candidate for the job? This question will help you discover additional skills and experiences they are looking for that might not have been listed in the job posting. Listen carefully as people tend to name the most important qualities first.
How do you measure success in this job? This question will help you identify their performance measures. Knowing what is important to them will help you explain how you achieved or exceeded your performance targets in the past.
What are the expectations of the supervisor? This question will help you clarify what the immediate boss expects from the new hire.
How engaged are the employees in the department? This question will help you gain insight into overall morale and help you decide if you want to join their company, should you be offered the job.
What do you like most about working here? This is an interesting way to get the interviewer to share their personal perspective on why it is a good place to work. If the interviewer doesn’t have a good answer, it’s a big red flag.
How would you describe the culture in the organization? This question will give you a better sense of the work style and overall atmosphere in the office. But take this with a grain of salt. Many employers say that they encourage teamwork yet work behind closed doors.
What are the biggest issues facing the company right now? This question is a well-placed, strategic level question. You can be assured these issues are what the CEO is focused on right now.
What will this company look like in five years? This type of detail is rarely included in the job posting so ask the interviewer about their longer-term plans. This will help you decide whether you fit and how you can help them get there.
Who previously held this position and why is it available? This will tell you whether the person was promoted, fired, quit, or retired, or whether it is a new position due to growth.
The company’s values are listed on the website. Can you give me examples of how the company’s lives its values? This will tell whether the company truly believes in its values or whether it is just paying lip-service to them. In either instance, it speaks to their culture.
If offered the job, will I have an opportunity to meet my prospective co-workers before deciding? If the answer is ‘no’ this is a big warning sign.
Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision? This is a great question to help the interviewer fill in the blanks about your background.
What is the next step in the process? This is a good wrap-up question to ask. It shows you’re interested in the role and anxious to move forward in the process. It is also helpful if you are interviewing with other companies concurrently.
Remember, never ask questions about compensation. The interviewer will initiate that discussion when the time is right. You should also never ask questions about information that is readily available on the company’s website, such as product lines, number of locations, and company size.
Question: Think about the types of questions you asked in your last interview. Did they help (or hurt) the impression you wanted to make?
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.