Every interview is a two-way exchange. It’s seeing whether you’re a good fit for the company, sure, but it’s also about seeing whether the company is a good fit for you. Asking questions during your interview (not just at the end) is a great way to ascertain whether the company is a place you can see yourself working for down the line. It also shows the interviewer that you’re invested in the job and you can spot when and where you might need more information in a given situation.
Memorise the questions before you go in, as opposed to reading them off a piece of paper, as this can make you look somewhat unprepared.
Here’s the CliffsNotes version of what questions to ask in an interview:
“What’s the company’s culture like, and does it change?” This will give you an insight into if a company is the right fit for you straight from the horse’s mouth. Understanding what it’s really like to work for a company from someone who’s living it is really important for when it comes to making that final decision.
“Are there any training or learning opportunities?” A company that invests in their employees’ personal learning and development is a company with vision. You want to be working for a place that knows a continually improving and empowered workforce will be a workforce primed for world domination.
“If you were to create the perfect job candidate for this role, how would I compare?” This is a pretty sneaky question, because it allows you to quickly assess whether your skills suit the position you’re applying for.
“What’s the staff turnover rate like?” You probably can’t expect a company to tell you everything about employee happiness. Therefore, a black and white answer like the turnover rate should be enough to give you an idea of whether people are truly happy working for the company.
“How will my team be structured, and what is the hierarchy?” Even better if you can request to meet the team you’ll potentially be working with! It’s always good to know who you may be managing, and who will be managing you. Also, this is a great way to understand how you may progress in your role in the years to come.
“How do you (manager/team/company) define success?” This is a great question to ask. Why? Because it clearly highlights what you will need to do in order to impress and succeed at the job.
“What convinced you to join this company?” This question will encourage your interviewers to open up a little. It definitely won’t hurt to build a good rapport, after all.
“What do you think would be my biggest challenge in this role?” Generally, people hire other employees to solve problems. If you can position yourself to be viewed as the person who will do just that, you’ll be more likely to get the position and excel.
“Do you have any more questions for me?” This is your moment to assuage any doubts your interviewers may have about your application. It’ll also show you’re proactive, and will take the initiative to improve in ways that’ll make you a more attractive candidate.
If you are looking to demonstrate that proactivity, then asking any of these questions should do the trick. If the interviewers answer your prepared questions over the course of the interview, you should still ask them, but rephrase in a way that encourages them to elaborate on their previous answers.
Curiosity is a good thing, but beware – there are a few questions you should avoid asking in interviews if you don’t want to kill your chances…
Don’t ask questions you should already know the answers to, for example, information clearly stated on the employer’s website or in recruitment information that you have been sent, or that has already been covered during the interview. If you do, it will look as if you haven’t done your research or weren’t listening carefully.
Don’t ask questions that sound arrogant. ‘What is your company able to offer me?’ will give the impression that you would be difficult to work with.
Don’t ask about your salary, holiday entitlement or whether you can defer entry to the graduate scheme and go off travelling for a year. Save these questions for when you receive your job offer.