So you’ve just spent the last 45 minutes being grilled about your qualifications. The interview is winding down and you hear those inevitable words: “Any questions?”
Contrary to what many people think, this isn’t a mere formality to signal the end of the conversation. The questions you ask can say as much about you as your answers. So before your interview, put some legitimate thought into what you want to know and be prepared to ask!
Here are some guidelines for asking the kinds of questions that will distinguish you from the pack.
Clarify the Position
This is your chance to ask about anything that wasn’t covered during the interview or in the job description. Don’t just ask questions for the sake of asking them. The purpose is to gain a better understanding of what would be expected of you and whether or not you’re qualified to deliver. Here are some examples:
What will a typical day look like for me?
How should I prioritize projects?
What are the immediate and long-term expectations for this position?
How has this job evolved since it’s been created?
What have been the biggest successes and challenges for employees in this position?
Asking these questions will help you if you do get hired and demonstrate to the employer that you’re taking the position seriously.
Gauge Your Compatibility
Although you can get a pretty good sense of what it’s like to work for a company during an interview, it’s hard to say right away if you’ll hit it off with your future boss and co-workers. In addition to inquiring about workplace culture, you could also ask employers a few more personal questions that could provide some insight into their personality such as:
What’s your favorite part of working here?
What attracted you to this job?
Tell me about your team? What’s working well and what could improve?
How they answer can reveal a lot about their working style. Plus, people like to know that you’re interested in their point of view.
Where am I Going?
This can be tricky. You want to ask about career advancement without making it seem as if the current job’s not good enough for you. But if the position offers little opportunity for growth, you obviously want to know.
A good way to bring it up is by asking where previous employees have gone after this position. If they all moved on to higher positions in the company, this is a good sign. But even if they moved on to better opportunities elsewhere, you at least know that the position still helped them advance to the next step.
Or you could just be direct and ask about opportunities for advancement and professional development. If you want to seem forward thinking, it helps to preface this question by inquiring about the future of the company and its plans for growth and new products.
Before you leave, it’s always a good idea to ask about the next steps in the process, when they’ll be finalizing their decision and if there’s anything they need from you to help them make their decision.
If you’re feeling confident, you could ask about the particular skills and experiences they’re looking for in a candidate and if there’s anything that concerns them about your qualifications. Try to anticipate possible weaknesses in your background so that you’re able to respond in your favor.
And don’t ask about salary, benefits or other concessions. This should be reserved until after they’ve made an offer.
Finally, don’t spend as much time asking questions as you did answering them. Everybody’s busy, after all. Try to wrap it up before the interviewer seems impatient. You want to come across as a thoughtful, reliable and detail-oriented candidate, not a pest.
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