It’s important to remember that every interview is a two-way street.
You should be assessing the employer just as much as they’re assessing you, because you both need to walk away convinced that the job would be a great fit.
So when the tables are turned and the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” take advantage of this opportunity. It’s the best way to determine if you’d be happy working for this employer and whether your goals are aligned.
“The very process of asking questions completely changes the dynamic of the interview and the hiring manager’s perception of you,” said Teri Hockett, chief executive of What’s For Work, a career site for women. “Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to discover details that you might not have otherwise unveiled.”
Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo, says there’s another reason you should always prepare questions: “It’s expected — and if you don’t ask at least two questions, you will appear disinterested, or worse, less intelligent and engaged than a prospective employer would like.”
You should have at least four questions prepared in case your original two are answered through the course of the interview.
But don’t just ask questions for the sake of it, Hoover says. To benefit from them, you’ll need to think carefully about what you want to ask. And you’ll want to avoid certain questions.
“Your questions can, in fact, make or break an interview,” she said. “If they’re not thoughtful or if you ask something that has already been addressed, this can hurt you way more than it can help. Asking smart, engaging questions is imperative.”
Here are 31 smart questions to choose from — if they weren’t already answered — to help you get a better sense of the role and the company and to leave the interview with a positive, lasting impression:
Have I answered all your questions?
Before you begin asking your questions, find out if there’s anything they’d like you to elaborate on. You can do this by saying something like: “Yes, I do have a few questions for you — but before I get into those, I am wondering if I’ve sufficiently answered all of your questions. Would you like me to explain anything further or give any examples?”
Not only will they appreciate the offer, but it may be a good chance for you to gauge how well you’re doing, says Bill York, an executive recruiter with over 30 years of experience and the founder of the executive search firm Tudor Lewis.
If they say, “No, you answered all of my questions very well,” then this may tell you you’re in good shape. If they respond with, “Actually, could you tell me more about X?” or “Would you be able to clarify what you meant when you said Y?” this is your chance for a redo.
Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
Hoover recommends this question because it’s a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don’t match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position, she says.
Who would I be reporting to? Are those three people on the same team or on different teams? What’s the pecking order?
It’s important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses, Vicky Oliver writes in her book “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.”
If you’re going to be working for several people, you need to know “the lay of the internal land,” she says — or if you’re going to be over several people, you probably would want to get to know them before accepting the position.
How has this position evolved?
This question lets you know whether this job is a dead end or a stepping stone.
Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better?
This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals, says Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob.
Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform this job, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?
Knowing what skills the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and management values, Hoover says, so you can evaluate whether you would fit in.