It could perhaps be the most horrid part of the job interview - “So, do you have any questions you would like to ask us?” - Aaarrrgh! You know fine well that a sheepish smile while shaking your head and saying “Nah I’m good thanks” isn’t exactly what they want to hear!
So with that in mind, I’ve decided to prepare you a kick ass list of questions you can ask your interviewer. Keep in mind though - not all of these questions will be appropriate for every job interview out there. The one thing you should take away from this is that every job and every interviewer is different - these are just some generic examples so make an effort to think of questions relating to the job when you are preparing for your interview.
Also, these questions aren’t just a list of stuff you can say just to be a smart arse at your interview and get the job. Many of these questions will help you understand more about the job and company you are applying for. Use this list as a basis for your research - take notes where appropriate so you can have an intelligent discussion with your interviewer and prepare yourself for starting employment should you get a job.
Questions to ask in an interview (in no particular order!):
How many other people work in the team? What are there job roles?
If the job is in a new department, ask about the reason for establishing the apartment and what the plans for growth are.
If the job is an old one, ask who you are replacing and why they have moved on.
Ask about appraisals and performance reviews - how often, will they be tied to pay increases or bonuses?
How will my performance be measured?
Can you describe your ideal employee? This is a great one - use it early on to find out what they are expecting so you can tailor your later responses to suit them!
A slightly more subtle approach than the last point would be to ask, “what skills and experience would you say are necessary for someone to succeed in this job?”.
Not suitable for senior management really, but asking interviewers what they like about working at the company can be a good way to start a conversation about your new workplace.
Likewise, asking your interviewer when they started with the company and why they have stayed with the company? In a polite way - try not to ask this with a grimace on your face! You want to get them talking a little - it strengthens your relationship with them just that little bit more which can make a difference.
(If you are being interviewed by the MD / owner) Hypothetical question - if you had to leave, how would you like to see the company be managed?
What scope for progress and promotion is there within the company?
What kind of work will I be responsible for over the next year?
Will I be expected to work late nights or at the weekend?
Can you describe a typical day or week in the job?
What makes this company stand apart from the competition?
In your opinion, what is the most important attribute / achievement / quality you would like to see from me within my trial period?
Do you have any questions about my ability to do this job? This one ain’t great most of the time - they would have brought any questions they had already. However, the point you are trying to make with this is to show them your proactive attitude and confidence. This could add a positive to your interview if other areas haven’t been great (lack of experience, etc).
Having reviewed my CV and interviewed me, what qualities do you see in me?
Are you interviewing more people for this position?
Are there any areas you feel I would need to work on in order to become your top choice for the job?
Do your employees socialise outside of the workplace? OK, with this one you don’t want to seem like you will be out of the door 4pm Friday and straight to the pub! But it is worth getting an idea of how the office life will be - perhaps ask if they have any company sports teams, etc. Basically ask them to quantify the atmosphere of the office.
How would you describe the core responsibilities of the position? Only if this hasn’t been covered - you don’t want to seem stupid!
Will the job involve much traveling? If so, how much?
When are you looking for someone to start?
When can I expect to hear from you?
Would you like a list of references or any additional information from me?
Does the job involve any form of training? How will this be implemented and monitored?
(If there are other people in a similar job role to you) What attributes / traits would you say are necessary for someone to be successful within this job role?
Could you explain the company structure to me? This lets them clarify the management and departmental structure within the company. It will also help you get a better idea of how your role will fit into the company.
Does the job role have any pressing concerns that you will need me to tackle as soon as I start? This could refer to accounts / clients that need managed because someone left, or it could be asking them for a timeline of priorities if you are setting up a new department.
Does the team or job role I’ll be working in have any specific weaknesses right now that you would like to be address? This is a softer version of the previous question really.
What software / systems does your company use? Know your industry so you know how to ask this question properly.
What are the company’s plans for the future? This can be a great question - it will allow management to boast and you can nod and seem like you are interested. ;) Try to keep this discussion going with some follow up questions about the interviewers answer.
What challenges might I face in this position?
Have any previous employees failed to perform in this position and what would you say was the reason for that?
What misconceptions do people have about the organisation?
What are the company’s core business goals?
How effectively have these goals been communicated over the past 12 months? These 2 questions are great although they can throw off less organised managers and could work as a negative!
How does the company reward or recognise outstanding work and excellence?
Will my roles be limited to what has been outlined in my job description or will I be expected to take on other tasks as needed? If so, to what extent do you foresee this being the case? This is good for you - you need to know if you are going to sign up to be a shoe maker and eventually end up being a belt maker or not!
How do I compare to the other people you have interviewed so far?
The key is to use each question to your advantage. In most cases, employers will be looking at what you ask as a factor in their decision making process, but it is also possible to essentially “close the deal” if you have enough charm! ;) Many of these questions will allow you to discuss in-depth issues with your employer - getting down to the nitty gritty! From there, it is only a small step to them making a decision there and then. However, it is important to not and try and force that decision - being confident is good - being pushy is not.