10 Great Questions to Ask at Interview

questionsDo you know that most good employers are expecting you to ask questions at interview – and that if you fail to ask questions, you may appear as if you are not truly interested in the job, and the employer may think less of you as a result?

Its not just about asking any old question, you must avoid foolish questions, and by foolish, I don’t mean questions like “Why is the Sky Blue?”, I mean questions where you could have easily have found the answer by researching on their website. Asking these kind of foolish questions will make it look like you could not be bothered to research the business in advance and will not reflect well on your candidacy.

So to do a complete interview, it’s vital that you research the website in detail beforehand, and then, based on the remaining gaps in your knowledge of their business, prepare a set of pertinent questions and then ask them at interview. To help you with this process, I have presented 10 pertinent interview questions that you might like to ask at interview. These questions are intended to be asked of the actual hiring manager.

1.) What exactly would my day to day responsibilities be? 

I realize that you may have received a job description, but job descriptions can be out of date and they are static documents that may not reflect the dynamic nature of the role, or the balance of emphasis of each duty.

The role is the fundamental reason that you are joining the business so it is fine to seek clarification to ensure it meets your expectations. Also, if your interviewer cannot give a good answer, then this could be a worrying sign and you may need to politely follow up with additional questions.

2.) Can you describe a typical week or month in the job?

While the job description can tell you what your duties  may be, it does not really give you a live impression of the role. Asking this question will give you a more realistic impression of the role, so you can really understand how you feel about the position.

3.) What are the key challenges/objectives for the job holder over the next three months?

This is in part a trick question. You are trying to get the interviewer to reveal if there are any genuine crises lurking within the role, e.g. are you joining a sinking ship? At the same time, by using positive terminology like challenges (as opposed to issues), you are showing the interviewer that you are motivated, you are someone who likes to achieve and that you want to support the manager/business in achieving their objectives. Its a star question.

4.) When did you join the business?

This is another trick question. If the manager has joined recently e.g. within the past six months, then it is likely that the department may be a little unsettled and going through some change. Not a problem, but something to be aware of. As a positive, it’s a gentle relaxer question as most of us like to talk about ourselves. During this process they may open up more and you can learn useful things about the company.

5.) Is this a new role? If yes, ask them to explain why it was created? If no, ask them how  the role became available?

You are trying to understand if there is anything bad, wrong or problematic with the role which caused the employee to resign or to be fired. If the employee was promoted or simply moved on to better things then all is good. However, if the employee was fired or resigned (in an aggravated way), it could indicate that there is something wrong with the role itself, which could mean you could end up in a similar position to the previous role incumbent.

6.) What are the training and development opportunities?

The employer’s website may make some reference to this, but many do not. Training and Development is crucial to you doing your job well and to helping you meet your career objectives, so its good to know your employer’s position on this. Also, this will show that you are ambitious and thinking ahead.

7.) Are there any shortcoming in my application that may prevent you from offering me the job? Would you like me to clarify anything else?

In sales terms, you are effectively trying to close the deal. You are now showing the interviewer that you are positive about the role and that you are open to feedback about any deficiencies you may have. If you do get a useful answer from the interviewer, it gives you the chance to address these issues immediately, and if you are able to address those concerns, you move one step closer to getting the job.

8.) Do you want to know what I can do to help your business unit?

Assuming the interviewer says yes, you can then set about explaining how you can apply your skills and strengths to addressing specific challenges and goals about their business. Take into account what you have learned from their website and during the interview and ensure this is reflected in your proposal. This will show you as positive, forward thinking and able to think on your feet.

9.) What is the next step in the process?

This is a simple but important question as by inquiring and showing curiosity about the future process, you let the employer know that you are genuinely interested in the role.

10.) May I have your business card?

Ask each interviewer for a business card and then you will be able to send them a thank you note.

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Kazim Ladimeji
Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.