If you’ve been seeing job interviews as one-way streets all your life, you might be looking at them the wrong way. While your interviewer may be more-or-less leading the interview and asking the majority of the questions, there will inevitably come a point where the tables are turned. Your interviewer will look you in the eyes and ask, “did you have any questions for me?”
Unfortunately, many people who are fresh out of college and seeking employment don’t tend to have much experience when it comes to job interviews. As a result, they may feel as though this is a trick question. If asked, you may find yourself thinking, “aren’t you supposed to be the one with the questions?” What you may not realize is that asking questions during a job interview can be just as important as answering the ones you’re asked. In fact, not having any questions to ask your interviewer may be a sign that you didn’t adequately prepare for the interview by researching the company, or that you don’t have much interest in the position. In a worst-case scenario, you could even give off the vibe that you’re not taking the interview seriously.
Yikes! All this because you didn’t think of any questions to ask before your interview?
By taking the time to carefully research the company with which you’re interviewing and compile some thoughtful, intelligent questions, you’ll be in a much better position. And while you probably don’t want to bombard your interviewer with all the questions on this list, you might consider picking a few of them to ask at the close of your interview to leave a lasting impression.
1. Did I answer all of your questions?
This is one of the best questions to ask imediately upon the close of a job interview because it’s one your interviewer almost definitely won’t be expecting. This question is a great way to flip the tables back around in an unexpected but respectful manner. Basically, asking this question is opening the doors back up to re-visit any existing questions you might not have exactly nailed on the first go-around. At the same time, you’re showing your interviewer that you want to be as thorough as possible and that you’re open to following up on, elaborating on, or even defending something you may have said earlier in your interview. Just make sure that if you decide to ask this question, that you’re ready to come up with more on-the-spot answers.
2. What is the biggest challenge of this position?
Asking this question is beneficial to you in two ways. For starters, it shows your interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in learning more about the position and preparing for any challenges that could prevent you from performing at your very best. At the same time, it gives you an opportunity to scope out any “red flags” about the position itself. Generally, if an interviewer tries to tell you that there aren’t any major challenges to the position for which you’re interviewing, this should be seen as a warning sign that the job may not live up to expectations.
3. What’s your favorite thing about working here?
This might not be a secret if you’ve already been through the interview process a few times in the past, but interviewers have a tendency to enjoy talking about themselves and their own life experiences. By taking an interviewer about their favorite aspects of working for the company, you give them a chance to scratch this itch while also creating a sort of bonding experience. And of course, you’ll gain valuable insight into some of the best potential perks of the job and possibly even some information about the company culture. Just be watchful: if an interviewer seems to have a hard time coming up with at least a few reasons they enjoy working for a company, this might be a red flag.
4. Can you tell me more about the company culture?
If you weren’t able to gather enough information about the company culture by asking the last question (or if you decided to forego the last question), you might consider explicitly asking your interviewer to describe the company culture to you. This is information you’ll want to have before you accept a position, especially if you have strong beliefs and morals regarding corporate philosophy and the like. In fact, according to an Entrepreneur article, “[company culture] is quickly proving to be a ‘must-have’ rather than a ‘nice-to-have.'” Of course, your work/life balance can also be affected by company culture (for example, if your bosses don’t value time away from the office by letting you work remotely), so this isn’t something you’ll want to overlook.
5. Is there anyone else I should meet with?
For many interviewers, it’s refreshing to meet with a prospective employee who isn’t eager to run for the door as soon as the interview has concluded. If you want to make a bold and confident statement at the end of your interview, then, ask your interviewer if there’s anybody else you should meet from the company while you’re there. In the event that you are introduced to another higher-up, this could increase your chances of landing a job offer. And even if you’re simply shown around the office and introduced to some other employees, this will give you a better sense of how much team-building and teamwork is valued in the workplace.
6. What kind of advancement opportunities come with this position?
While you certainly don’t want to come off as though you’re already “too good” for the position you’re interviewing for, you obviously don’t want to end up in a dead-end position at any point in your career. With that in mind, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask about the kinds of opportunities that might be available to you within the company if you end up working in the role for a few years. Just be sure to ask it in a respectful and tactful manner so as not to give the wrong impression.
7. How have past employees succeeded in this position?
It might see counter-intuitive to ask questions about a person who no longer works in the position or who may soon be leaving, but this is an important question to ask for a couple reasons. For starters, it shows your interviewer that you’re genuinely invested in not only taking on the role, but in performing it well. On the flip side of the coin, asking this question can give you valuable insight into the kinds of characteristics and traits previous employees may have had that you might need to work on if you end up in this role.
8. What would a typical day in this position look like?
This is yet another question that serves more than one purpose to ask. On its surface, asking this question paints you as an eager beaver who is ready to take on the job and wants to learn as much as possible about the day-to-day tasks involved. To your benefit, the answers you receive to this question will give you a great idea as to what you can expect from the job from day one. You’ll have a better understanding of the kinds of responsibilities you’ll have, the skills you’ll need to succeed, and the expectations your superiors will have of you. This, in turn, may help you make a better decision regarding whether or not this position is truly right for you.
9. What type of training is offered?
Asking about training at the close of a job interviewer shows your eagerness to learn new things, which any employer would deem a positive trait. At the same time, it also gives you a better idea of the kinds of expectations that may be set for you right off-the-bat. If very little training is provided, this means you may be put into a “sink or swim” type of position that may not be conducive to your long-term success. On the other hand, a company that offers extensive training to new hires could be a sign of an organization that takes its employees seriously and wants to have them on-board for a long time to come.
10. How has this position evolved or changed over time?
If you’re too nervous to ask about job advancement outright (see question six), this is a more subtle way of asking essentially the same thing. By asking about how the position has changed over time, you’ll be able to better gauge whether the position is up-and-coming or if it’s perhaps becoming obsolete. For example, if your interviewer explains that the job used to entail much more responsibility but has recently been made much easier thanks to help from software or technology, this might be a sign that the position may not be around much longer.
11. What are the next steps?
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask about next steps in the process before you shake hands and walk out that door. Your interviewer may not be able to give you a detailed timeline of their hiring process, but they should be able to give you a general idea of when you should hear back regarding potential second interviews or other opportunities.
Interviewing for a new job can be a nerve-racking experience, especially when it comes to answering question after question on-the-fly. Fortunately, with a bit of preparation and by asking the right questions in return, you can greatly improve your chances of being called back for a second interview.
- Basner, G. (2015, June 19). Why company culture is more important than ever. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247522
- Doyle, A. (2017, June 7). How to prepare for a New Job Orientation. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-new-job-orientation-2061559
- Doyle, A. (2017, October 2). How to follow up after a job interview. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-follow-up-after-a-job-interview-2061333
- Roberts, M. (2017, March 1). Reasons to ask questions in a job interview. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/why-you-should-ask-questions-in-a-job-interview-1669548
- Zhang, L. The Muse. 4 ways to handle interview questions you don’t know how to answer. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-ways-to-handle-interview-questions-you-dont-know-how-to-answer