Questions YOU should ask at an interview

by Rich DeMatteo on July 12, 2009 · 10 comments

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Smart applicants spend a great deal of time preparing and practicing for an upcoming interview, hoping to successfully predict the questions that will be asked.  However, many times candidates pass on preparing their own questions for the interviewer, which leaves them looking like a deer in headlights when the recruiter or hiring manager asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”  In my experiences, even the poorly trained interviewers know they should allow the applicant time to fire off their own questions.  Recruiters and hiring managers expect it from the applicant, so why not use this to your advantage and make it as another segment of your interview?  Sure, many candidates will breeze through an interview never asking a question and will still get the job, but in today’s painful market, applicants need to fire with everything they have.  First off, why is it important to ask questions?

  • Asking questions shows you’ve been active in your thinking about the position.  The interviewer might think you’ve lost interest in the opening if your not coming back at him/her with questions.
  • Asking intelligent questions can go a long way.  Maybe in your head you responded to a previous question unfavorably in both you and the interviewer’s heads.  Use a few intelligent questions to possibly redeem yourself.  Asking well thought out questions will impress any interviewer.
  • Interviewers should always do their best to present enough information about the company, culture, and position, but you can use your questions to probe deeper into the company.  Don’t forget, you are interviewing the company as well and need to make sure it’s a place that you can see yourself working.  

So, which questions do you ask?  The list of questions below will not only bring you critical information to your job search, but also help to show your intelligence and interest in the position:

  • Can you discuss the corporate culture, mission, and values?
  • How would you describe the management philosophy of the organization?
  • With so many companies laying off right now, how has this company been able to maintain the workforce and continue to hire new employees?
  • What are the biggest challenges I would face in the first 3 months (the first 90 days are almost the hardest for a new employee)?
  • What do you expect me to accomplish in this job?
  • Does this position offer opportunities for advancement?
  • Why isn’t this job being filled from within?
  • What keeps you working here?
  • What are the current goals of the department and company for the coming year?
  • How soon do you expect to make a decision?
  • If selected for the position, which process would we follow in regard to further pre-employment screening, on-boarding, communication,  etc.?

Sounds silly, but make sure to listen to the interviewer throughout the entire process.  Some of the questions you’ve prepared may have already been discussed either on the phone screen or during the face to face.  Asking an intelligent question may backfire if it has already been answered.  Also, unless it is brought up, do not ask questions pertaining to benefits and perks, salary range, and earning potential.  Let them come to you on this topic, you need to flash them your interest in the opening, not your desire for some more bling.

Good luck friends, you’ll do just great.

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