Your job interview is not just the opportunity for the company to gain information needed to make the decision whether to hire you; it's also the chance for you to scope out the company and see whether it's a place you actually want to work. Asking judiciously chosen questions lets you see some of the inner workings. It also gives you an opportunity to let yourself shine as a job candidate.
1. Practical Questions
These are the questions that get you basic information, such as when the company hopes to have the new hire start and what the compensation package and benefits are like. Finding out where the company is in the hiring process is another key piece of information you need. The rule about these questions is to ask them of the person farthest away from the actual hiring decision. If you're working with a job recruiter, ask her these questions rather than saving them for your actual interview. If you have a preliminary interview with human resources, before you meet the boss, ask HR for the answers.
2. Questions About the Job Itself
Ask how the position became available to look for any cracks in the smooth face that the company automatically puts on during a job interview. Questions about professional development and long-term advancement can send you a warning if the job is actually a dead-end position. Ask what a typical day in the job is like to get a feeling as to how well the department is run.
3. Questions That Help You Decide Whether You Want to Work Here
Often these questions seem more general, but the answers can be very revealing. Ask what makes someone succeed in this company. If the interviewer's answer boils down to office politics, you've gained valuable information indeed. Also ask what the toughest part of the job is to discern whether your own skills and personality are going to be able to thrive here during the rougher moments.
4. Questions That Show Whether the Company Values Its Employees
A great company to work for values its employees and wants to see them succeed. Ask how risk-taking or creative initiatives are rewarded at the company and how outstanding employees are acknowledged or rewarded. If the job interviewer waffles on the answer or shows any hesitancy, you may be getting a hint that the company's attitude toward employees is not what you might hope for.
5. Questions That Make You Look Good
Of course, you've already done the research you need to understand everything you can about the company from the outside. Use this research to come up with questions that can start a real conversation between you and the interviewer. If you're an expert in an area that impacts the company, show off your knowledge and skills by framing a question that directs the conversation to show you at your best. Don't forget to ask whether the job interviewer has any hesitations about your background, experience or qualifications. Though this questions looks like you're making yourself vulnerable, it's also another opportunity for you to point out how well you fit the position.
6. Questions That Reveal Team and Company Culture
You may be a perfect fit for the position you're applying for, but you have to fit with the team you might be working with as well. Ask direct questions about the team and how it meshes with the larger department. Ask about the management styles that work best with this team. You can even ask about the specific team members you'd be working with the most. Pay attention to whether the interviewer offers to introduce you to the team at an appropriate moment.
7. Follow-Up Questions
Don't forget to open the door to continued contact with the job interviewer. Ask what the next step is. If you had a truly great interview, ask if the interviewer is ready to make a decision and what it would take for her to be ready. Let the interviewer know when you plan to check in with her; this gives you tacit permission to continue the conversation.
Your job interview isn't just about answer the questions that you're asked well. The questions you ask can actually leave the most positive (or negative) impression on the job interviewer, since you typically ask them toward the end of the interview. Plan ahead to your next interview to be prepared to ask questions that truly make you shine as a candidate.
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