Almost every interview you will ever have will end the same way. After grilling you with their prepared questions, the interviewer will look up and ask: “Do you have any questions for me?”
It’s a huge mistake to not take advantage of this opportunity. This is your chance to learn more about the organization, the job, and the hiring process. Plus, asking the right questions can reinforce your professionalism and your fit for the job.
In fact, not asking a question is something of a liability. It makes you seem passive or disinterested in the position.
You should always ask at least two good questions at the end of the interview. And, while it’s best to have questions that are grounded in the conversation you’ve already just had with the interviewer, it’s okay to have a few prepared prompts in your back pocket.
Here are the some of the best questions to ask in an interview:
1. What does this organization most value in its employees and its operations? How would my job here advance these values?
This is a great way to learn more about the organization’s internal culture and the general expectations it has for its workers. It’s also a great segue into a conversation about work-life balance (or the absence thereof) in a given job.
Many organizations publicize a values statement on their website. If so, don’t ask the interviewer for information that is readily available online. Instead, show that you’ve done your homework by asking a slightly modified version of the question. For example: “I read on your website that Company X values transparency and honesty in their operations. How are these values operationalized in the marketing manager position we are talking about today?”
2. Where would this organization like to be in five years?
Interviewers are used to asking this question to candidates, but you should turn it around on them, too! The response can tell you a lot about the organization’s operations, direction, viability, and vision.
Asking this question shows that you’re interested in the long-term goals of the organization–not just the immediate needs of the job for which you’re applying. It also presents an opportunity to talk about how you, specifically, can help the organization get where it wants to be.
3. What is the most valuable thing I can do for you in my first 60 days of employment?
Ask this question to get an idea of the responsibilities and challenges you’ll be expected to face as soon as you start the job. The interviewer’s response will give you a sense of the organization’s immediate needs–the kind of information that doesn’t often show up in formal job announcements.
This question conveys that you are interested in solving real problems for the employer. It also gives you a chance to explain how you’ll make an immediate impact once you’re hired.
4. How do you (or does the organization) define long-term success for this role? What can I do in the next 12 months to meet your expectations?
This is one of Mac Prichard’s favorites. It’s a variation on question number three, but with a much broader scope and timeline. Again, this will give you a more concrete sense of the what your job will really entail. Job descriptions are often a laundry list of general responsibilities; the answer to this question will tell you the employer’s real priorities for your role.
More importantly, this question expresses a sense of personal accountability for the job-at-hand. You’re making it clear that you understand the work that needs to be done, and that you’re taking responsibility to ensure that these goals are met.
5. What kind of resources, tools, and support is available to help me meet the organization’s goals?
Just about every job requires some external assistance, be it support staff, software, hardware, information, training, an expense account, or even just office supplies. Ask what the employer is going to provide to help you succeed in the roll.
It is totally fair and appropriate to inquire about the support you will get. In fact, asking this kind of probing question shows that you understand the job and the real work that it will require.
An added benefit to this question is that it can help you avoid toxic work situations. If an employer has big expectations–quadrupling sales in the first year, for example–but isn’t giving you the tools you would reasonably need to meet this goal, you might reconsider whether you really want the job.
6. Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
Most jobs involve some level of collaborative effort and teamwork is a highly-valued skillset for many employers. It’s also one of the most difficult skills for a job seeker to prove during an interview. This question expresses your proactive interest in the other employees you hope to work with, showing that you’re ready to be a team player.
7. Can you tell me about your experience in the organization? How long have you been here? What do you like most about your job?
Asking the interviewer about their tenure with the company gives you more insight into the organization’s internal culture. Plus, it’s always good to build a friendly rapport with the interviewer.
A question about the interviewer’s experience shows that you’re interested in them as a person. It also gives you a segue into finding other things-in-common with the interviewer.
8. We haven’t talked about X. Can I tell you more about my experience in this area?
J.T. O’Donnell of WorkItDaily.com shared this question on XXX Episode 64 of our Find Your Dream Job podcast. Sometimes the interviewer may fail to ask you questions about certain aspects of the job. Or perhaps they don’t ask about one of your core professional strengths. Don’t assume that these omissions were intentional or that it’s unnecessary to share the information. Interviewers can and do make mistakes, but their oversight in asking the right questions can sometimes create the impression that you aren’t qualified for the gig.
That’s why you need to fill in any gaps for the interviewer. If you feel like you didn’t get a chance to talk about some amazing project did in your last job, or how you have all the prerequisite experience for the job-at-hand, then speak up and create the opportunity for yourself!
9. What is the process you are using to find the right fit for this position? What are the next steps?
This is one of the most empowering questions you can ask–and it’s the one most employers totally expect you to ask. There’s no reason why you should be in the dark after an interview.
Knowing the next steps in the hiring process gives you vital information for your post-interview follow-up. Learn where the company is in the decision-making process and how long you should wait before following up with the hiring manager.
10. Can you think of any reason why I wouldn’t be moved forward in this process?
This suggestion comes from Hannah Morgan of CareerSherpa.com. (Check out Mac’s interview with Hannah on XXX Episode 55 of our Find Your Dream Job podcast.) It’s a bold question, but one that can work wonders.
Here’s why this is such a powerful question: it prompts the interviewer to bring up any reservations he or she may have about your candidacy. In turn, you get the opportunity to address and allay those concerns before you end the interview. You never want to leave the interviewer with doubts about your qualifications or fit. So make sure you ask probing questions that get the hiring manager talking about any concerns.