As your job interview comes to a close, you breathe a small sigh of relief, happy this stressful situation is almost over. Your interviewer then asks whether you have any questions. Resist the urge to say, “No.” Sure, you want to leave, so you can reduce your stress level. But it’s never wise to exit without asking a few questions.
On his blog The Interview Guys, career expert Mike Simpson said a job interview is similar to a date. There should be some give and take as you learn about each other and whether you’d be a good fit. “Like any good date, shouldn’t you try to learn a little bit more about the position and company before you decide to accept the job if they offer it to you? Of course! How else are you going to find out if it really is a job you want to do?” Simpson said.
Your questions could make or break your chances of getting the job. So use this time to your advantage, and ask questions that will make the hiring team take note of you. Here are 15 questions you need to ask at a job interview if you want to make a good impression.
1. What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the past year?
Ask whether the company feels like things are getting better or worse and how it plans to handle either scenario. Ask how the company is changing, so you can gain a better perspective of its goals and values. The interviewer’s answer will offer insight into what type of employee they’re looking for.
Career expert Marc Cenedella said it’s important to show an interest in where the company is headed, and learn how you can help it get there. “By asking these questions, which focus on the needs, traits, and preferences of your future boss and future employer, you’re demonstrating that you are somebody who is genuinely interested in their well-being,” Cenedella said.
Next: It’s OK to focus on you a little bit, too.
2. What new skills can I hope to learn here?
This question shows you are eager to continue learning. It shows you won’t become complacent and stop bringing value to the company because you got too comfortable to care. Employers don’t want to hire someone who eventually becomes a flat-liner, so do your best to ask questions that demonstrate you’ll do what it takes to continue to grow and add value.
Honigman Media CEO Brian Honigman said this question says a lot about a candidate. “It signifies a few positive things: The applicant acknowledges they don’t know everything, and it signals both humility and potential. This individual is actively seeking knowledge and using that as a criterion to judge opportunity. They know that skills are important, not just knowledge,” he said.
Next: Find out how you’ll be judged.
3. What are your expectations during the first 30 days, 60 days, and a year?
Don’t be in the dark about what is expected of you. The worst thing you can do is get the job and then totally miss the mark because you didn’t ask the right questions. Learn what the hiring manager is looking to accomplish through your role. “Find out what your employer’s expectations are for the person in this position,” said Pamela Skillings, career expert and founder of Big Interview.
4. What is a typical day like?
Don’t forget to ask about the basics. The answer to this question will help reduce the chance of being taken by surprise. For example, if everyone is expected to attend a weekly staff meeting at 8 a.m. Mondays, it would be helpful to know that information if 9 a.m. is your typical start time. Simpson said if he hadn’t asked his future employer what a typical day would be like he would have been unprepared.
“Having the day laid out for you from beginning to end is a smart way to get a quick overview of what is expected of you outside the job description. I was hired for a job once where all the employees were expected to participate in a group physical activity before starting our day. Had I not asked about a typical day I would have been completely unprepared for my first day and unable to participate,” Simpson said.
5. What is the company culture like?
This question is important because the answer will let you know whether the company is a good fit for you. A poor culture match could make your days at the company unpleasant. Just like a pair of jeans, it’s important to find the right fit. Find out what you’re getting yourself into before accepting an offer. It’s also a good idea to do some of your own research. Career sites, such as Glassdoor, offer insights directly from current and past employees.
6. Could you tell me about the team I would be working with?
You’ll want to know as much as you can about your potential co-workers. Chances are you’ll work closely together, especially because most companies encourage collaborative work environments. Some of the information you’ll be able to glean from this answer is how long employees tend to stay with the company, advanced certifications or degrees some of your teammates have, and the types of projects you’ll be working on.
7. How are employees recognized?
This will give you an idea of whether the company goes out of its way to show appreciation for a job well done. It doesn’t feel great to go above and beyond the call of duty only to be ignored or treated as if what you did was no big deal. Find out now whether the company values its workforce. You don’t want to work for a thankless employer who treats its staff poorly.
8. Who is your ideal candidate?
You might be afraid to ask this question because you think it implies you’re not the ideal candidate, but that’s not true. This is your chance to prove otherwise. You’ll give yourself an advantage because the interviewer might mention some skills and specific experience that weren’t mentioned in the job description. This provides an opportunity for you to mention how your work history has given you the skills and job experience the employer is looking for.
9. What can you tell me about my predecessor?
This answer will give you information about the circumstances surrounding your predecessor’s departure. If the interviewer is willing to answer the question truthfully, you can find out whether the previous employee was promoted, asked to leave, left voluntarily, or decided to retire. This question will provide you with a wealth of useful information. You can get a better idea of whether you have a chance at getting promoted, whether the workers are happy, and what kind of environment you’ll be working in.
10. If I get the job, what will be my first major project or goal?
This will allow you to prepare for whatever might come your way during the first few days or weeks at the job. The answer will also tell you whether this is really the type of job you want to do. If it seems as though the tasks are very different from the job description, it’s possible you’re interviewing for a bait-and-switch position, where the employer lists all the good parts of the job and then leaves the undesirable aspects for after the candidate is hired. Employers sometimes do this when a position is hard to fill.
11. What’s the biggest problem facing your company, and how could I help?
Asking this question shows you’re not just concerned about yourself and what you can get from the employer. Rather, it demonstrates your willingness to be a team player and work toward advancing the company. In addition, the question will prompt the interview to imagine you working with the company in this role. Although you might want to know what the employer can do for you, this shouldn’t be the focus of your questions because it makes you look selfish and uninterested in the job.
12. Can you tell me about the company’s plans for growth?
The answer your interviewer gives to this question will show you the employer’s vision for the future. It could also tell you whether the company isn’t too keen on change and hasn’t made any significant moves in the past couple of years. However, be careful with this question. If the employer has clearly stated its growth plans on the corporate website, you don’t need to ask this question. It will just look like you haven’t done proper research.
13. What do you like about working here?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions that focus on the interviewer. This will help you build a personal connection. Roughly 49% of career advisers in a Workopolis survey said poor connection was enough reason to dismiss a job candidate. So make sure to ask engaging questions.
If the interviewer pauses and can’t seem to find one good thing about the company, that’s a problem. This could be an indication the company has some problems, and employees aren’t happy.
14. Is there anything I can do to improve my application?
This question shows you’re interested in the job, and you’re willing to put in additional effort to make sure you get the job. If you’re applying for a writing position, for example, ask whether the interviewer would like to see additional writing samples. If the interview isn’t going as well as you would like, use the time you have left to find ways to increase your chance of being hired.
15. What are the next steps?
It’s important to listen closely to the answer. You don’t want to do something that could hurt your chances of getting hired, such as following up too soon or too often. This is also a good question because it shows you are enthusiastic about the job. Demonstrating enthusiasm is important to hiring managers. Approximately 56% of hiring managers in the Workopolis survey said they passed over a candidate who didn’t seem excited about the job.
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