Asking incisive and intelligent questions in an interview can be a potential game-changer. They are pivotal in turning the interview into more of a conversation between two equal professionals, which works to your benefit as the interviewee. Not only do your questions stop job interviews from feeling like an interrogation into whether you are suitable for the position, but they can also help you evaluate if the position and indeed, the firm, are right for you.
It is important to use the right tone when asking your questions, and to frame them in a positive light. You don’t want to come across as arrogant or sceptical about the position and/or firm. Asking questions should work for you, not against you.
We believe that there are five things that you should try and aim to do by asking questions to the interviewer, and by the way, these questions may have already been answered by the point you get invited to ask questions.
This means why is it that they are looking, what is the role and how does it fit into the rest f what the business is doing, and what current initiatives are. Thus, perhaps a question such as: “What is the reason that this job has come up now?”. A follow-up question to this could be: “How does this particular position fit into the context of your current business initiatives?”
2. What you want:
It’s great if you can be really clear about what you want from your new job before you go in for interview, and to ask questions around that to see whether this job and indeed, firm, matches up. For example, you may be particularly concerned about what opportunities there will be for Continued Professional Development (CPD); if this is the case, ask this question under this heading. This has the added benefit of getting them to, in some way, sell the position or firm to you.
3. Have we covered all the ground:
This is your opportunity to ask the interviewer if they have enough information about you to take a well-informed and fair view as to whether or not you fit with their criteria.
4. Objection-eliciting questions:
There may be reasons why the interviewer doubts that you are the right candidate for this position, and if they have objections to you as a candidate, this is your opportunity to address those concerns. A statement and question such as: “From my point of view, and from what I have heard so far, I am enthusiastic to pursue this process. Are there any ways in which you feel I don’t quite fit with the brief?”
Perhaps the final question you can ask will be about the process and what will happen next: how many other candidates are involved and what kind of timescale they have in mind. Such questions include: “Should you wish to proceed with me as a candidate, what are the steps from here?”; “What will happen next?”
Below, further ideas and questions to ask at interview:
What are the most enjoyable and the least enjoyable aspects of this position?
This questions indicates that you want to be aware of the challenges you may face, and that you want to be appropriately prepared, with the expectation of being able to rise to it.
What training opportunities are offered by the firm?
This question is a classic. It suggests that personal and career development is important to you, and that you are keen to improve your existing skills, and add further value to the company. Being prepared to learn to do the best you possibly can for a firm is a great value in a new employee.
What scope is there for promotion in the future?
Again, this question is typical. It similarly highlights that you are determined to progress in your career and that you are interested in committing to this company in the long-term.
How does this position relate to the overall structure of the company/relate to specific business initiatives?
This question indicates that you enjoy working as part of a team. This is especially important for companies where teamwork is central to their company culture. It shows that you want to know where you would slot in as a new employee, and how your contribution would impact the rest of the organisation.
How would you describe the company’s work culture?
A cultural fit between you and your potential employer is absolutely vital, so it’s important to ask this question. It highlights that you want to work at your optimum, and that a positive working environment is pivotal. This also shows that you are a good self-manager, aware of how to get the best out of yourself.
How is performance measured and reviewed?
Asking this question indicates to an interviewer that delivering real results is important to not only the company, but to you. It also shows that you understand the value of a reliable employee committed to returns.
What are the most significant issues that the company will face in the following year?
You recently introduced a new service/division/project/product; how will this impact the organisation?
This demonstrates that you are interested in both the position and the company. It will be clear that you have researched the company (hopefully extensively), thought about it, and now want their insider take on it.