If your prospective employer has invited you to an interview, you have every right to be excited. Interviewing candidates for an open position is a time-intensive chore, and most companies only interview people who have a real chance at getting the job. The pre-employment interview is a two-way street, however, and the questions you ask during the meeting can be every bit as influential in landing the job as the questions you answer. Before your next interview, try committing a few of the most important questions to memory so that you can be ready when the opportunity arises.
1. Is This a New Position, or Is It a Replacement?
This question is a polite way of gauging your prospects in the job. If it's a new position, for instance, you might find yourself writing the rules for how it's done. If you're replacing someone else, be sure to ask why they left; the answer might be telling.
2. How Would You Describe the Culture Here?
Every company has a culture all its own, and hiring managers usually aren't shy about telling new employees what it's like. Some companies are highly competitive, while others emphasize collaboration or creativity. Knowing how employees think and act before your first day can give you a big leg up.
3. What Is the Key to Succeeding Here?
This question encourages your interviewer to summarize the company's values in a brief statement. By asking how to succeed, you have essentially asked what is most important to the management and how to do it. The advantage to knowing what your future supervisors are looking for is obvious.
4. How Is Success Measured?
Companies measure success in different ways. Even within one company, various jobs have to be evaluated in the ways most appropriate to them. A sales manager, for example, almost certainly has different metrics than a customer service specialist. Always ask how your performance is measured.
5. Can You Give a Complete List of This Position's Expectations?
A comprehensive answer to this question gets you off to a good start by ensuring you know exactly what you're applying for. If the position comes with overtime requirements, if you have to travel or if you are expected to work from home on occasion, it is best to know about it before you agree to move forward in the hiring process.
6. How Does the Company Encourage Employees to Grow?
This question has two purposes, explains Susan P. Joyce, a job search and SEO expert at Job-Hunt. First, it shows you're already thinking about making a long-term commitment to your new company, which is always a good message to send interviewers. Second, the answer tips you off about whether the company promotes from within, supports your continuing education or coaches employees who need extra help.
7. Where Do You See the Company in Five Years?
Few interviewers are willing to tell new hires about long-range corporate plans, but it's worth asking this question anyway. By asking about the future, you reinforce the impression that you're planning to stay for the long run, and you might get encouraging news about the company's plans for future expansion, which might include advancement for you.
8. Do the People Here Get Together Outside of Work?
Asking about personal or extracurricular activities at the company shows you're an enthusiastic team player who's interested in the group you're joining. A number of large companies encourage workers to get together for carpools or interest groups that are dedicated to their hobbies. Asking about these signals that you're already thinking about how well you'll fit in.
9. What Are the Next Steps In the Process?
Always ask about the next steps in the hiring process as your interview wraps up. Not only does this emphasize the message that you're already thinking of yourself as part of the team; it also spares you the embarrassment of going home after the interview and wondering whether the phone will ring in the next week or two. Asking where to go from the interview also gives the company representative a chance to signal how well you've done by, perhaps, scheduling the follow-up meeting right away. The answer can also give you a hint about how many other people are being considered for the job, says Forbes.
10. What's the Most Important Thing to Know About Working Here?
This is best phrased as an open-ended question because it encourages your interviewer to talk about the company without prompting. Hearing the unscripted thoughts of a company insider is extremely valuable to you as you decide whether the position fits your expectations.
Interviews can be stressful and uncomfortable for job seekers, but they can also be a great opportunity to learn new things about the company you hope to join. By asking directed questions, you can not only get valuable information before jumping into a new job but also increase your chances of getting the job by showing your hiring manager how invested you are in the process. Always ask questions at your interview, and the experience can be as productive for you as it is for the company that hires you.
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