Preparation is the key to success in a job interview. Along with researching the company, practicing your answers to the interviewer’s questions, and determining how you’ll eventually negotiate salary and benefits, you should prepare a list of inquiries to ask during your in-person interview(s).
Why is it important to ask your interviewer questions? Simple. An interview isn’t just about the company determining if you’re the right candidate for them. It’s also about you determining if the company is a good fit for you. The only way to find this out is by asking smart questions to your interviewer and making the conversation less one-sided.
Secondly, it’s impressive to the interviewer. When you come prepared with a list of thoughtful questions, it shows that you’re interested, curious, and thorough. These are the traits that can help you stand apart from other candidates.
Some of the most effective questions to ask an interviewer fall into a few overarching categories.
ASK ABOUT THE JOB
This may seem obvious, but plenty of candidates forget to ask for details about the position itself. Here’s how to gain essential information about the job:
- What are the key responsibilities of this position?
- What traits does the ideal candidate need to possess for this position, and why?
- What does a typical day look like for someone in this position?
- What will be the most challenging part of the job for a new employee to get acquainted with?
- Who will the person in this position regularly work with?
- What is the organizational structure around this position? (To whom does this person report, and who reports to them?)
ASK ABOUT THE COMPANY’S CULTURE
According to Deloitte, “94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.” So, it’s important to learn about a company’s culture before accepting a position. If you need your interviewer to provide more information about the company’s culture, you could ask:
- How does the company celebrate successes?
- How would your employees describe your company culture?
- Are there any employee engagement activities, such as event-planning committees?
- How do the company’s benefits feed into the culture? For example, do you offer paid volunteer days?
- Would you describe your employees as autonomous? Are they encouraged to be? Why or why not?
- Conversely, how does the company deal with failure?
- Does the company regularly review its mission, vision, and core values with employees? How are they enacted in everyday proceedings?
ASK ABOUT THE COMPANY’S FUTURE
Before you join a new company, you should find out where it’s going—and how you’d fit in. Here’s how to gather that information:
- Where does the CEO see the company in the next five years? Ten years?
- What’s the ultimate vision for this department?
- What are the company’s current goals?
- Is there room for someone in this position to move up or be promoted?
- How have the company’s earnings looked in the last five years? (Note: For a public company, this information might exist online.)
- (If earnings have been poor) Is there a plan in place to redirect the company? How would someone in this position fit into that plan?
- In your opinion, what’s the most exciting thing about your company’s future?
ASK ABOUT THE INTERVIEW PROCESS—AND FOR THE JOB
The final questions you should ask in the interview pertain to securing the job. In our experience, plenty of candidates neglect to express interest in the position. Here’s how you can determine what to expect in the rest of the interview process and show your interest:
- Do you have many more interviews to conduct?
- What will your selection process look like from here?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
- (After the interviewer tells you when you’ll hear from them) That sounds great. I’m extremely interested in the position, and I see myself working here. Is it okay if I reach out if I don’t hear from you by then?
READY FOR THE INTERVIEW?
It’s time to find your next opportunity. View our list of active searches to see if you’re a fit.