Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Career Blog

Many job seekers believe their questions should come at the end of the interview. While that’s better than having no inquires at all, asking the interviewer well-placed, thoughtful questions throughout the conversation makes it more of a balanced discussion and increases the level of rapport. It also demonstrates your interest in the role, understanding of the company, and offers insight into how you think.

Good questions depend on your level and experience. Clearly, a person seeking an intern role will have different focus areas than someone in line for a global VP position. That said, the following are solid inquires for most levels:

  • Can you describe a typical workday for someone in this position?
  • How will the responsibilities of the position expand over time?
  • Can you tell me about the people I’d be working with?
  • What are your expectations in the first ninety days?
  • Of all the responsibilities we discussed, what would be the biggest win for this role in the first year?

Poor questions on the other hand are those that demonstrate a lack of research or focus too heavily on what the company can do for you. Examples include: Do you offer tuition assistance and what is your vacation policy? It’s important to understand all aspects of an offer, but best to wait until you actually have one before launching a premature negotiation.

Of course taking control of the exchange at the end with a little conversational jujitsu can provide a final opportunity to stand apart from other candidates. Instead of tossing a softball question make your final inquires job-specific, positive, and relevant to the hiring manager. Some examples include:

  • Looking back to when you joined the company, how did you ensure your first 90 days were successful?
  • It seems every company has a cultural 3rd rail, any key dos or don’ts to be aware of?
  • How can the selected candidate make your life easier?
  • Where are you in the hiring process and what is the next step for me?

Another, perhaps bolder strategy is to simply ask for the role or at least and indication of your chances of obtaining it. A good question for this is, “based on what we’ve discussed today, is there any reason I wouldn’t be offered the position?” A softer approach is, “I’d really like this role. Are there any gaps that you’ve identified during our conversation that would prevent you from offering me the job?” In either case, if a gap is identified take the opportunity to fill it with additional information.

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Be sure to check out my latest book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi

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