When preparing for a job interview, many people focus on how they will answer the interviewer’s questions. While that is certainly important, it’s only half the equation. Near the end of your interview, you will probably be asked whether you have any questions for the interviewer. This is your opportunity to show your enthusiasm, highlight skills or abilities that may not have come out earlier in the interview, and learn whether the job is truly a match for you. Here’s how to make the most of this time.
Prepare a List
This question may throw you if you are unprepared. Before your interview, write a list of things you want to know about the company and the position to help you decide whether it’s the right fit. Many of the answers may come out during the interview, or something the interviewer says may spark new questions, so use your list simply as a jumping-off point.
Categorize Your Questions
Everyone has different needs and priorities, so the “right” questions for one person to ask may be unimportant to another. In general, though, good interview questions fall into a few categories:
- Day to day responsibilities, work hours, and overtime expectations
- Corporate structure, chain of command, and management style
- Opportunities for individual growth and advancement
- Company culture, values, and corporate development plans
- Best and worst aspects of working for the company
- Practical matters such as next steps and when the start date would be
Tips for Asking Questions
When asking questions during your interview, it’s important to remain professional. Ask one question at a time and wait for an answer before proceeding. Choose open-ended questions that encourage dialogue. Ask questions from a variety of categories and avoid personal topics.
While it’s important to gather the information that can help you gauge whether the position is right for you, be careful not to stray into sounding self-centered. Wait until you receive the job offer to discuss things like vacation time, specific work schedules, and other details. Also, avoid basic questions like, “what does the company do?” Your questions should show that you’ve done some research on the company and are eager to learn more.
Many job seekers fail to take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions during a job interview. They either claim to have no questions at all, or they struggle to come up with something on the fly. Asking thoughtful questions can not only help you decide whether the position is right for you, but it can impress your interviewer and potentially give you an edge over the competition.