Many job seekers focus so hard on how to answer interview questions, that they forget to prepare a list of questions to ask employers. Asking the right questions is important because you can confirm if you are the right candidate for the position, and if this is an organization that you want to work for.
When you ask the right questions, you want to achieve three things:
- Find out if you feel the employer is the right fit for you.
- Make sure the interviewer has no reservations about you.
- Demonstrate your interest in the employer.
There are an infinite number of questions you could ask during a job interview, but if you stay focused on those three goals, the questions should come easy to you. Be prepared with at least 3 - 5 questions you can ask and ask them in the available time based on what you think is most important. You should always have questions for the employer at the end of the interview.
Do Your Research
Do not ask questions that are clearly answered on the employer's web site and/or in any literature provided by the employer to you in advance. This reveals that you did not prepare and you are wasting the employer's time by asking these questions.
You can show how you've done your homework by asking questions that emphasize the content you've learned about the organization. For example, "I've read that your organization is expanding service offerings. Would this be an opportunity I could assist with?"
- You should always have questions for the employer.
- Avoid asking questions that begin with “is,” “are,” and “do.” These questions lead to yes/no answers. Instead begin your questions with “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how.”
- Do not ask questions that could be answered by the job posting.
Questions to Ask Employers
- What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?
This is a great open-ended question that will have the interviewer put his or her cards on the table and state exactly what the employer is looking for. If the interviewer mentions something you didn’t cover yet, now is your chance.
- What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?
This question not only shows that you are immediately thinking about how you can help the team, it also encourages the interviewer to envision you working at the position.
- What is the top priority for the person in this position over the next three months?
This question is helpful so you know what to focus on if you do get the position. Without a clear expectation, you won't know what to accomplish or how to make the right impression during your first days on the job.
- How would you describe a typical day and/or a typical week in this position?
Asking this can provide clarity about your core responsibilities, and provide information about what your focus should be on day one.
- Why are you looking to fill this position?
(Is it a newly created job? Did the previous employee leave? Why?)
This seemingly straightforward question will tell you whether a previous employee was promoted or fired or if he/she quit or retired. That, in turn, will provide a clue to whether: there’s a chance for advancement, employees are unhappy, the place is in turmoil or the employer has workers around your age.
- What are the things you like least/most about working here?
This question allows the interviewer to connect with you on a more personal level, sharing his or her feelings. The answer will also give you unique insight into how satisfied people are with their jobs there. If the interviewer is pained to come up with an answer to your question, it’s a big red flag.
- How are the company’s recruiting and professional development initiatives supporting a diverse culture, and how are these initiatives part of your work?
- What measures are in place at this organization to foster an environment where employees from marginalized communities feel safe and valued?
The above two questions show that you are invested in equity and will help you learn about the organization’s level of commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture and supporting and advancing all of its employees.
- What is the average length of stay in this position?
This question will help you understand the potential for future growth and can open up a conversation about professional development.
- Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
Notice how the question is phrased; it assumes you will get the job. This question also tells you about the people you will interact with on a daily basis, so listen to the answer closely.
- What constitutes success at this position and this organization?
Knowing how the organization measures achievements will help you understand what the expectations will be and whether you have the skill set to meet them, This question shows your interest in being successful there, and the answer will show you both how to get ahead and whether it is a good fit for you. But don't undermine your past accomplishments just because your route to success doesn't match up with the one embraced by the company.
- Do you offer continuing education and professional training? About how many individuals go through your training program each year?
This is a great positioning question, showing that you are interested in expanding your knowledge and ultimately growing with the employer.
- How often are performance reviews given?
- What are your hopes for the new product lines/services that have been announced recently?
This question should be customized for your particular needs. Do your homework on the employer’s site beforehand and mention a new product or service it’s launching to demonstrate your research and interest. The answer to the question will give you a good idea of where the employer is headed.
- What groups do you think are underrepresented in your company currently, and what steps is the company taking to address these gaps?
This question demonstrates that equity and inclusion are priorities to you and can help you learn about the culture of the organization and what they value and are working towards.
- If I were extended an offer of employment, how quickly would you like me to start?
This can give you clues as to how quickly the organization will move forward, and can be helpful to you as you navigate multiple interviews and multiple offers.
- What is the next step in the process?
This is the essential last question and one you should definitely ask. It shows that you’re interested in moving along in the process and invites the interviewer to tell you how many people are in the running for the position.
Remember: Never ask about salary and benefits issues until those subjects are raised by the employer.
Information adapted from Forbes article by Next Avenue.