The Best Questions to Ask in an Interview

Most recruiters will wrap up an interview by asking if you have any questions for them.  Jobseekers who haven’t prepared in advance for questions can sometimes draw a blank, ending the interview on an awkward note.  Asking good questions not only provides extra information about the opportunity, it can also position you as an interested and motivated candidate for the job.  Here are some examples of good questions, and why they work:

What would a typical day on the job be like for me? This question tells the recruiter that you’re trying to picture yourself in the job, and that you’ll have solid information at hand to make a decision about the job. Jobs often sound different in theory than they are in every day practice, so it’s important to get a feel for what you’ll really be spending your work days doing.

What qualities or skills do the top performers in this job have? You can learn a lot about a job by learning what makes others successful. Only you know what personally drives you crazy or makes a job a pleasure, so listen carefully.  What will it mean for you if the answer to this question is “a thick skin,” or “an incredible eye for detail?”

How will I be trained for the position?  This question gives you a glimpse into more than the job – it tells you about the company culture and the situation you’ll be walking into.  Consider the difference for you between “We have a training manual for you to study, and you’ll be assigned to a department mentor for the first few weeks,” and “Oh, we’ll just put you on the desk.  Things have been pretty hectic since John left, and we don’t really have time for formal training. You’ll sink or swim pretty fast.”

Another good question might be to ask how the position became vacant.  If the incumbent was promoted, you’ll probably walk into a much more organized and pleasant situation than if he/she was fired for incompetence. You can also ask about the company culture or the management style of your supervisor. This is a good chance to show who you are, as well.  Remember that the point of an interview is to figure out if you are a good match for the job.  Consider starting your question with something like, “In my last position, I really enjoyed the confidence my boss had in me. He supported me in making independent decisions.  Does this position offer the same flexibility and independence?”

Always end every interview by expressing interest in the position and thanking the interviewer warmly for the opportunity to meet with him/her. Your final question can be one about the process. Questions like “What are the next steps in your interview process?” or “When will you be contacting candidates for the next round of interviews?” help you plan for follow up with the company.

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