Asking Questions in Your Interview

questions

One of the hardest parts of a job interview, especially a first interview, can be that moment near the end when the interviewer says, “Well, that’s all I have. Do you have any questions for me?” Of course you have a question! You want to know if you got the job! But you’re not allowed to ask that. (Unless, of course, you are a high powered sales person who rocks it by breaking rules, in which case: you go girl!)

Pretty much the worst thing that you can say is that you don’t have any questions. There are a number of reasons for this, but mainly it makes you look unprepared. You are expected to have questions ready, if you don’t then you lose points. You also shouldn’t ask bad questions. This says that you prepare when you have to, but only put in the minimum required effort.

So how do you prepare? This is another one of those cases in which Google is your friend. Start by just reading articles and blogs about asking questions in an interview (oh look! You’ve already started). Some of the advice out there is a little off in left field, but there’s a lot of good available, you just have to read with the job you’re interviewing for in mind. Take notes, write down at least a dozen questions that you like, and put them in some sort of order on a piece of paper. Chances are at least a few of them will be answered during the interview, so it’s good to have backups.

Below are some of my favorite questions broken up into three groups: beginning, middle, and end. Beginning questions focus more broadly on the position: why is it available, what type of things will the person filling it be expected to do? Middle questions focus on the details of the job: what are the top objectives, how will success be measured? And end questions are wrap up questions. There are two directions you can go with end questions, and which one you choose is going to be based a lot on your personality and the vibe that you’re getting from the person interviewing you. Either ask them about their time at the company or, if you’re brave and the time feels right, ask them if they have any concerns about you as a candidate. The latter will give you a chance to address any problems they might have, but can also come across as overly aggressive.

Beginning
  • Is this a new position? If not, who held this position previously? Why are they leaving the role?
  • Can you walk me through a typical day or week of someone in this role?
  • What sort of projects do you see this position taking on?
Middle
  • How do you evaluate success?
  • What are the most important objectives for this position in the first few months?
  • What are the biggest trouble-spots you’re hoping the person in this position can help you with?
End
  • What do you like most about working for this company?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture? Do co-workers eat lunch together?
  • Do you have any concerns about my qualifications?
  • What are the next steps? Is there anything that you need me to do?