A very wise hiring manager once told me this: “Not asking any questions during an interview is shooting oneself in the foot. As a recruiter, I see it as a lack of preparation and/or interest. Either way, for the candidate, it’s the end of the road.” If recruiters can deduct valuable information from your answers to their questions, they can, and will inevitably, deduct just as much information from your questions.
As the word suggests, an “interview” is a two-way street: just as the recruiters have to ask questions to see if you are the right candidate, you are entitled – and expected – to ask questions yourself to see if the position is right for you. Here is a collection of questions that will help you make a better decision (and a better impression) during the recruitment process.
Ask about the employer’s expectations
Asking specific questions about the employer’s expectations is a good way to demonstrate clearly your interest in the position and your desire to succeed.
- What assets/qualities have made my predecessors successful?
- Which criteria will you use to evaluate my performance?
- What kind of learning/training goals are expected of me during the first six months?
Remember: TAKE NOTES. These questions can often lead to valuable nuggets of information that do not appear in the job description.
Ask about the corporate culture
By inquiring about the work environment, you send a powerful message: You know what suits you, and you want to make sure that you will be happy in your role and excel at your job.
- How would you describe the work atmosphere in three words?
- What do you like best about working for this company/organization?
- What is the busiest/most challenging period of the year, and why?
Remember: Think also about what YOU want. You are, to some extent, interviewing a potential employer. Take this opportunity to gain insight into what values are held in high regard and to see if they match yours.
Ask about the company/organization’s evolution
Showing a genuine curiosity about the organization by asking specific questions proves that you have done your research and that you are a serious contender.
- What are the biggest challenges/opportunities facing the company/organization right now?
- Who do you consider your top competitor, and why?
- How has the company changed over the last few years?
Remember: BE THOUGHTFUL. Avoid asking questions that could be easily answered with a bit of research. First, review the company/organization’s website. Take the time to go through its mission statement, values, “Career” and “Media” sections, and strategic plan. Then, prepare your questions in light of what you have learned.
A few golden rules
- ACTIVELY LISTEN to the answers, and TAKE NOTES.
- ADJUST your list of questions as the interview goes.
- TAKE REAL INTEREST in your interviewers’ points of view, projects and work. We all love to talk about ourselves. Give them that opportunity, and make them feel heard and validated, so that your interview ends on a high note. This will help you be more MEMORABLE.
As you can see, these questions go far beyond the obvious “When should I expect hearing from you?” I hope these tips will help you create a unique list of insightful questions that will not only wow your interviewers, but also guide you in your decision-making process.
IMPORTANT: Naturally, the questions provided above are only suggestions. You should always use your own judgment to determine if a question is appropriate and relevant or not. For example, if the employer focuses on its advancement opportunities in its job posting, it may be smart to inquire about them during your interview.