Asking Questions At Interview

Asking the Right Questions for a Successful Interview

Searching for a new job can be stressful. You have to craft an enticing resume, research potential companies and positions and prepare to answer tricky interview questions. You may breathe a sigh of relief when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” and feel that the ordeal is finally over, but if you treat this as a throwaway question you have missed an excellent opportunity to solidify your reputation as a top-notch candidate. This is not the time to ask about the salary, benefits, time off and other self-interested matters, which shouldn’t be brought up until later in the hiring process. Instead, asking questions at the interview is a great way to learn more about the scope of the work, the challenges you’ll face, the team you’ll be part of and the company culture.

Learn More About the Position

While the job listing probably included a brief description of the position and the tasks it entails, you can ask questions to learn more about the specific challenges the company is facing and the projects you will contribute to. If you have tackled similar problems or roles in the past this can be an opportunity to share that experience and reinforce that you’ll be a valuable hire. This can also be an opportunity to dispel any concerns the interviewer may have about your qualifications. Your questions about the position might include:

  • If I were chosen for this position, what are the most important things I could accomplish in the next six months?

  • What is the most pressing problem your department is dealing with right now?

  • What did the previous person who filled this position do best, and what would you like to see the next person do differently?

  • Are there any requirements for this position that you feel I don’t meet?

  • Do you have any concerns or hesitations that I could address before we’re finished here?

    Learn More About the Team

    Your coworkers will play a big part in your success and contentment on the job. Asking questions about the team can give you important insight into the organizational hierarchy, the dynamics of the team and the different groups and individuals you might collaborate with. You might ask questions such as:

  • Who are the other members of the team, and what are their roles?

  • Will I work with the same group regularly, or collaborate with different groups?

  • What can you tell me about how a person in this role coordinates with their manager?

  • Who will I report to, and how will they determine whether I am meeting the expectations of this position?

  • Who approves promotions and advancement opportunities, and what do they base their decision on?

    Learn More About the Company and Its Culture

    Research the company thoroughly before the interview. If you ask a question that you could have found the answer to on your own the interviewer may see this as laziness or a lack of preparation. On the other hand, questions that showcase your background knowledge and enthusiasm for the company and the position can highlight your interest and thorough preparation. This is also an opportunity to explore the company values and culture and to determine whether it’s the right position for you. Once you’ve researched the company, prepare a few questions that draw on what you’ve learned. You might ask:

  • I know that the mission is ___________. How would I contribute to that mission in this position?

  • According to the website your company’s goals are ___________ and ___________. What are the short-term and long-term goals of this department, and how do they help the company to achieve its goals?

  • Your company supports employee development. What opportunities are available for gaining new knowledge and skills?

  • Your website states that the company values risk taking and creativity in its employees. How are these traits identified, and how are they rewarded?

  • What can you tell me about the company culture? What do you enjoy most about working here?

    Everyone knows the importance of making a good first impression, but the final moments of an interview are equally important. Your questions will help you to determine whether the company and the position are a good fit for you. It is just as essential to use your questions as an opportunity to establish yourself as a qualified, enthusiastic candidate and a proactive thinker who is eager to learn about the tough challenges you’ll face and tackle them head on.

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