Asking questions in an interview provides an opportunity to find out more about the role and the company, but it also gives you the opportunity to showcase your interest and stand out to the interviewer.
In most interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions. Asking no questions can be viewed in a negative light, so you need to come prepared. You can take a notebook containing questions into the interview if you need to. In fact some recruiters I’ve spoken to like candidates to bring notes to an interview (as well as take notes during the interview). Being equipped like this shows commitment, preparation and organisation skills – all positives for a potential employer.
Don’t worry if your prepared questions get answered during the course of the interview, just say something along the lines of “I did have a list of questions prepared, but thanks very much because you’ve answered all of them. I was interested to hear you talk about XYZ though, so can you tell me a little bit more about the impact that has on this role.”
In terms of the types of questions to ask, it really depends on the role and the company. Make sure you research the company and its competitors otherwise you may come across as uninterested. You may get asked “What do you know about us” or something along those lines, so researching for relevant questions will help you prepare an answer for that question as well.
In terms of your specific questions, view it as an opportunity to find out as much as you can about the company and role. Interviews are two way processes – it’s as much about you deciding if the role is right for you, as it is about the employer deciding if you are right for them. Some ideas to get you started:
- Show Interest: Do your homework and find out about the company. Devise question(s) that relate to recent news or events. Start your question by saying “I read about XYZ and wanted to find out more.”
- Training & Development: Ask about the company’s policy on training, development, workshops, seminars, conferences etc.
- Strategic Plans: Ask about the company’s strategic plan, or better yet, have some idea from your research, and ask how it fits with this role/department.
- Structure: Ask why the person is leaving the role OR for a newly created role, where has the work come from?
- Performance Review: Ask about performance review processes, and whether there are any KPIs/targets upon which the role is evaluated. Find out what the role expectations are for the first 6 or 12 months.
- Next Steps: Ask what will happen next, how long the decision is likely to take and whether you might be required for another interview.
I would strongly suggest not focusing your questions on benefits or hours but rather discuss the company, its strategic focus, general direction and/or competitive environment – and how that impacts the role you are applying for.
Remember, you should try to ask at least a few questions to show that you’ve come prepared and you are interested in the role and company. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s answer(s) and, if possible, devise further question(s) in order to expand.
If you are interested in getting help from an Interview Coach to help increase your success rate at interviews, please see our interview training and interview coaching services.