At some point during a job interview, the interviewer is likely to ask you if you have any questions for her. Don't be like so many job candidates who simply shake their heads meekly and say something like, "No, I think you've explained everything." This is the moment where you can find out some key information about the company and the position you're applying for that might help you decide whether you want to work there or not. Here are some of the essential questions you should make sure to ask in your next job interview.
"What Qualities Do Your Best Employees Have?"
This question allows you to address the issue of "fit" in an indirect manner. Use the discussion this question provokes to show how you have the needed skills and qualities and to demonstrate that you understand the company's values and personality.
"How Can I Help You Meet Your Goals?"
Far too many job candidates make it clear that they're only interested in how this position might benefit them personally. Make those concerns secondary in your interview by asking about the company's short-term and long-term goals. Ask how the position you're interviewing for fits into those goals. This question lets the interviewer know you're a team player. The answer to the question also gives you valuable information to position yourself as a prime candidate who is ready to support the company's goals over the long term.
"Why Do You Like Working Here?"
This question is designed to build rapport between yourself and your interviewer. It also gives you an inside peek into the company. If you're interviewing with your potential boss, you may get a sense of how well you would work with that person. If your interviewer has a difficult time answering this question or hesitates before answering, you may have just discovered that this company is not a place where you want to work.
"Why Is This Job Vacant?"
This is a vital question that can tell you a lot about the company and department you're applying to. Was the previous person in the position promoted? That tells you this job isn't a dead-end position. Has it been vacant for months? If so, you should wonder why the company hasn't been able to fill it. Perhaps the previous candidates knew something about poor compensation, unfriendly co-workers or an unreasonable boss that you wouldn't otherwise learn about until it's too late.
"What's the Greatest Challenge Facing the Person Taking This Job?"
While on the surface this question looks like it's sizing up any problems with the position, it's doing far more than that. Once you get an answer, you're well positioned to describe how you handled similar difficulties in previous positions. You're also well prepared for any second interview. Consider expanding this question to ask about the specific challenges the new hire can expect to face in the first 30 to 90 days on the job. If you're offered the job and you accept, you can use this information to give yourself a head start to success.
"How Successful Was the Last Person to Hold This Position?"
This question sounds like you're asking about the metrics that determine success within the company. While the answer should provide that information, it may also open a door to let you see any hidden problems within the department. If the hiring manager starts to reveal management issues, you may get valuable information to help you decide whether you really want this job.
"Do You See Any Reason Not to Hire Me?"
Posing this question to an interviewer may be intimidating, and the question may seem overly blunt. However, it's one of the most straightforward ways to ascertain where you stand at the end of a job interview. It opens the door to let you clarify anything that's still unclear from your resume or the interview itself. In addition, if it's clear that you're not going to get the job, asking this question gives you valuable information to help you prep for your next interview, information you may not be able to get any other way.
"What's Your Time Frame?"
Once you leave an interview, you may start getting nervous. Why haven't you heard from them? Will they even let you know if they choose someone else? Ask this question to calm your nerves down the road. If you learn you're among the first people being interviewed and that they're continuing interviews for another week, you don't have to feel frantic if you haven't heard anything in a few days. This question also lets you plan your follow-up contacts with the company so you don't inadvertently send a message that sounds desperate.
"May I Contact You With Any Other Questions?"
You may feel awkward getting in touch with a hiring manager once you've left the interview. Asking this question gives you explicit permission to do so. It also keeps the hiring manager from feeling that you shouldn't be calling if you do follow up.
When you close out your interview by asking these questions, you feel much more confident that you've made a good impression and learned everything you need to know. Your interviewer is likely to be watching to see if you're smart enough to ask good questions, so plan ahead to move yourself a step forward in the hiring process.
Photo Courtesy of Slate Missouri Career Center at Flickr.com