An interview is a two-way street. Your potential employer is asking you questions to learn about you and your skills. In return, you need to prepare questions to ask your potential employer about the position, your boss, and the company in order to be sure that this is the right job for you.
In addition, if you don’t prepare smart questions, you run the risk of the interviewer assuming you aren’t interested or haven’t prepared.
Your opportunity to ask questions usually comes at the end of the interview. You must prepare at least two questions that demonstrate your interest in the position, your drive to excel in the role, and the fact that you’ve done some homework (researched company, industry, department).
So how do you come up with these smart questions that show you’re the perfect hire? As you conduct your pre-interview research, make note of topics that you’d like to ask about.
Keep in the mind that the best questions to ask are focused, open-ended question.
Avoid yes or no questions and avoid questions that are so broad that they are difficult to answer. You don’t want to stump the interviewer when you’re trying to make a good impression and develop rapport.
Still not sure what to ask? We have some proven examples of good questions to ask during a job interview:
1. Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
This is your chance to learn as much as possible about the role so you can decide whether this is a job you really want. By learning more about the day-to-day tasks, you will also gain more insight into what specific skills and strengths are needed and you can address any topics that haven’t already been covered.
2. What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?
This question can often lead to valuable information that’s not in the job description. It can help you learn about the company culture and expectations so you can show that you are a good fit.
3. What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days, year?
Find out what your employer’s expectations are for the person in this position.
4. Describe the culture of the company.
Are you a good fit for this particular organization? Make sure you are comfortable with the culture and the dynamic of the company.
5. Where do you think the company is headed in the next 5 years?
If you plan to be in this role for several years, make sure the company is growing so you can grow with the company.
6. Who do you consider your top competitor, and why?
You should already have an idea of the company’s major competitors, but it can be useful to ask your interviewer for their thoughts. Naturally, they will be able to give you insight you can’t find anywhere else.
7. What are the biggest opportunities facing the company/department right now?
This question shows your drive to seize opportunity and may help you learn more about where the company will be focusing over the next several months.
8. What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
On the flip side, you may want to ask about challenges. This question can help you uncover trends and issues in the industry and perhaps identify areas where your skills could save the day.
9. What do you like best about working for this company?
Ask about your interviewer’s personal experience for additional insight into the company’s culture.
10. What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
This question can help you learn whether the company promotes from within, and how career advancement works within the organization. By asking the question, you show your interest in growing with the organization — just be careful not to phrase it in a way that sounds too self-serving (i.e. When can I expect a raise and a promotion?).
11. How do I compare with the other candidates you’ve interviewed for this role?
This is a slightly risky choice. You don’t want to put the interviewer in an awkward position. However, if things are going well and you’ve built a strong rapport, this question can help you see if there are any concerns or issues that you could address to show why you’re the best person for the job.
12. What are the next steps in the interview process?
This question shows that you are eager to move forward in the process. It will also help you gain important information about the timeline for hiring so that you can follow up appropriately.
Remember: Don’t ask about salary or benefits just yet. Wait until you are in the final steps of the interview process to negotiate with the hiring manager or an HR representative.
Inside Big Interview, our complete training system for job interviews, we give you video lessons, sample answers, and an interactive practice tool. We also include many more examples of how to answer: “Do you have any questions for me?” Watch this brief video to learn a little more about Big Interview, and click here to take a quick look at the program.
(Photo Credit: Oberazzi)