Interview Questions You Should Ask

Interview Questions You Should Ask

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Job hunters ask me all the time about how to respond to difficult questions. But when preparing for an interview, people often forget to prepare questions to ask when the interview is winding down and the person on the other side of the desk asks, “So… are there some questions of yours that you have for me?”

Just because you are asking the questions at this point does not mean the questions should be about you, your wants, or your needs.

The biggest mistake of all is to use this as an opportunity to ask what everyone already knows is on your mind:

  • How did I do?
  • Will I get called back for another round of discussions?
  • When do you want me to start work?
  • How much will you pay me?

The subtle thing going on here is giving the job hunter the opportunity to ask a question… is itself a question.

The questions you ask say a great deal about why you are applying for the job, your interest in the work of the organization or department you seek to join, your desire to make a real contribution to the success of your organization and hiring manager, your understanding of the nature of the company or organization, your likelihood to be a lone-wolf or valued team contributor, and more.

This is also the opportunity for you to circle back to some earlier point in the interview when you didn’t quite make a point that you as successfully as you intended.

Consequently, just as every question you are asked in a job interview has an unstated question behind it, so should your questions.

Interview Questions You Should Ask

Here are two examples of interview questions you should ask and their underlying purpose:

Interview Question #1

“We spoke about X a little earlier. I am curious about whether you do it this way or that way? Would the fact that I’ve got experience doing this (relate a very short example of when/how) be something I could build on if I were to work with you?”

This line of questioning does a lot at once:

  • Shows you were paying attention and continuing to think about the earlier part of the conversation.
  • Demonstrates you know what you are talking about by illustrating your knowledge of various ways to accomplish the work at hand.
  • Demonstrates your desire to use your past experience to help the team.
  • Shows you want to not only use previously attained skills/experience, but aspire to continue to develop your own ability to contribute.

Interview Question #2

“We spoke about many of the aspects of this job. Of all of them, which is the greatest priority for you?”

This question tries to cut through the whole “wish list” that the employer may have, and let you respond to his/her answer by demonstrating your particular experience, skills, and interest in meeting this particular priority need.

In the short video below, I provide three more key interview questions you can utilize to position yourself effectively by the questions you ask.

Do check it out, and let me know your favorite questions to ask as well!

Happy hunting!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Arnie Fertig

Arnie Fertig invites readers to follow him on Twitter via @jobhuntercoach and to linkup with him on LinkedIn. His primary focus is coaching mid-career job seekers.

4 comments

  1. Additional questions I would add in no particular order:

    Is this a new or an existing position?

    What happened to the last person who held this position?

    Would I be the only person serving in this position, or do other employees perform similar work?

    Describe your ideal candidate for this position.

    Are there specific skills you hope a new employee will bring to the company that you do not already have onboard?

    What are the career paths in this department?

    Where have successful employees who have served in this position progressed to within the company?

    What would you consider to be the most important aspects of this job?

    What are the skills and attributes you value most for someone being hired for this position?

    Could you describe a typical day or week for this position?

    What is your management style? (if talking with hiring manager)

    Would I be working with internal or external clients?

    What are the most immediate challenges of the position that need to be addressed in the first (X number of) months?

    What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?

    How will my performance be evaluated and how often?

    Do you see any gaps in my qualifications that I need to fill that will better qualify me for the positon?

    Are there any reasons you feel I’m not fully qualified for this position?

    Now that you’ve had a chance to meet and interview me, what reservations might you have in putting me in this position?

    Is there anything I have said or done during today’s interview that’s inconsistent with your idea of the perfect candidate for this job?

    What are the next steps in the interview process?

  2. These are some great questions, especially those posted by the readers! I would add (for a second interview question) what specific software will this position be using, excluding Microsoft Office modules.

  3. Great article! I’ll add this to my list of MUST READs.

    As a part-time job coach, I’ve collected 25-plus questions to ask. Not all of them will apply to every candidate, and many will have been answered during the interview. But I advise candidates to go over this list, check the one’s they care about, and SMILINGLY ask the interviewer if they mind if you take notes. (I think taking notes shows a higher level of interest and sincerity.)

    1. (Category: WILL YOU FIT THEIR NEEDS? )

    • Tell me about your company’s greatest challenges in the last two years (Watch their body language and eye contact)

    • How are you handling that? (Listen closely to see if your real skills are going to be effective in this job)

    • How will MY job help you overcome those problems? (this tells them that you know you have an urgent job to do.)

    2. What are this job’s major responsibilities?

    3. What authority would I have?

    4. What first needs the attention of the person you hire?
    5. Why did the previous person leave this position?

    6. Who will be my direct supervisor?

    7. What is the Company’s outlook on future growth? The industry’s future growth?

    8. Will this company be sold or acquired in the near future? (You could be out of a job in 6 months!)

    9. What is the company’s current standing in the industry? (You may learn this by online research.)

    10. What can you tell me about the personnel I would work with? Supervise?

    11. What is the company’s management philosophy? (Authoritarian? Teamwork? Initiative?)

    12. Is continuing education offered for employees? (especially important for high tech industries)

    13. What are you looking for in the individual who will fill tills position?

    14. What are the hours to be worked? Will there be overtime? How often, do you estimate? Will overtime be optional? (Important if you have other vital commitments, such as special family needs.)

    15. Where is the location of the job?

    16. When does the job start?

    17. What will my weekly schedule look like?

    18. Is there travel involved with the position? How much?

    19. What is the opportunity for advancement?

    20. Tell me about periodic performance interviews.

    21. How does this company determine or evaluate success?

    22. How would you describe the work environment here? Casual, formal, etc.

    23. Do you offer training seminars or orientation for new employees?

    24. How many applicants will you be interviewing?

    25. When my I expect a decision? Will you notify me either way, or would you rather have me call in to find out? When may I call you?

  4. Great questions, Arnie! And the video really brought all of your recommendations to light. Clients always struggle with this wrap up to the interview and I suspect most ask all the wrong questions. A good strategy for anyone who is currently pursuing interviews would be to write these 3 questions on index cards, formulate your replies in your head and carry the cards with you to every interview. Arrive to the interview a few minutes early and while you are waiting for your scheduled time, read your resume, cover letter and the index cards again. This will refresh your memory and put you in the right frame of mind to ace the interview – and get the offer!

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