You’re applying for that plum admin job and the interview is going well. You’re well prepared and you’ve answered all the questions with alacrity and skill. Now comes the sticky part: The hiring manager turns the tables and asks you, “Do you have any questions you’d like to ask?”
This is not as easy as it sounds. The interviewer will be evaluating your questions as much as he or she weighed your answers at the start of the interview. So be prepared to ask some intelligent questions.
First off, not asking questions is not a good idea. It shows a lack of interest in the company and the position. It also gives your competition (the hordes of candidates seeking the same plum job) a leg up, since you can bet many will have come prepared to ask all sorts of questions.
So what’s an intelligent question? Some suggestions:
- I read about your company’s growth plans, but I’d like your take on what part of the company will grow the most in the next five years?
- I understand your division will be coming out with a new product (or service). Can you tell me how your division will be handling that?
- What happened to the previous individual who held the position I’m applying for?
- What were the strengths and weaknesses of that person?
- What types of skill sets are you currently lacking in this department?
- What are the career paths for this position?
- How often have people been promoted from this position?
- How will I be evaluated in this position?
- What are the most important aspects of this job?
- What are the most pressing challenges facing individuals hired for this position?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
Questions to stay away from include:
- Tell me about your company’s benefits. This is not the time to ask about dental or vision plans, maternity leave, bonuses or sick leave, or if you can telecommute to save gas.
- Will I have to pass a drug test? Let the interviewer bring this up. If you bring it up, it will make you sound like “employee ganga.”
- Will I qualify for a discount on your product or service? This is a “what’s in it for me” question that makes you sound selfish.
- Do you check references? Assume they’ll contact every one of the references you listed. And some you didn’t. So be prepared.
- How long are lunch breaks? You’ll get one. The law says so. So leave it at that.
- So did I get the job? As casting directors tell their tryouts, “We’ll call you.”
Remember, you’re being judged just as much by your questions at the end of the interview as by your initial response to the interviewer’s questions. So be cool and practice your questions in mock interviews with colleagues and people you trust.