Most people preparing for an interview think about all of the “tricky” questions they’re likely to be asked. And plenty of books have been written telling you how you should best answer them.
But have you ever considered the questions that you should be asking the interviewer? They’re just as important. Right at the end of the interview (if not before) you will probably be given the chance to do the questioning. Seize on that moment. It’s your time to shine. Don’t be passive. Speak up!
Also, don’t forget that an interview is a two-way street and you need to find out if the company and the position is truly a good fit for you.
But basically, if you pose thoughtful, intelligent questions you can become the stand-out rock star from the rest of the applicants. Every situation is different and, of course, there’s a balance between showcasing your abilities by asking artful questions and being overbearing by peppering the interviewer with too many questions. Here are some of the questions you should consider asking. You won’t ask all of them…just choose those that are most appropriate in your circumstances.
Who held this position until now?
Asking this question is actually opening the door to bigger questions. What you’re really asking is: Is this a new position? Or…was the person who had the job promoted, fired or retired? Or…have there been any problems with the position? It’s not the straightforward question that it might seem and the answer will definitely give you an intriguing insight into company operations.
What are the immediate top priorities for the person taking over this position?
This is an excellent question to raise because it demonstrates that you are eager to get on board and start making things happen. You want to get to grips with the demands of the new job and you want to focus in on the company’s needs. It also allows you to provide ideas and solutions proving that you know how to handle it.
What are some of the main challenges?
While similar to the last question this one has a bit more of an edge and lets the interviewer know that you really want to dig deep and get to the root of the tasks ahead of you. It also opens the door for you to display your problem-solving expertise, and reveal how you are up to the challenges.
What’s the potential for promotion?
This might seem like an obvious thing to ask. And it’s a vital question not only because it indicates that you are interested in moving up the ladder but also that you’re seeking a long-term relationship. Personally, for RedLotus, I want people who are going to be loyal and team players for our continuing journey together.
What do you enjoy about working here?
Assuming you’re not being interviewed by the company owner this is a means of getting a feel for the company from an insider. On top of that the response can give you the opportunity to respond with a positive comment. It also moves the interviewer out of his official interviewer role! And if the interviewer doesn’t seem excited about working for the company you might want to reexamine your application.
What can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with and the person to whom I’ll report?
No-one works in isolation. Ideally, you’ll be able to establish a rapport with your new colleagues, and your immediate boss. But here’s a way to find out something about them from the get-go. Of course, the interviewer is not going to tell you that you’ll be working with a bunch of losers. But listen carefully because you will definitely pick up some clues about the personalities involved. Also take note how the question was worded. Presenting it this way positively assumes you will be working there!
What can you tell me about the company’s plans for growth?
This won’t be the exact wording of this particular question because, hopefully, you will have done your research and you will already have a good working knowledge of the company’s position in the marketplace. So, tailor this question accordingly. You can ask about progress of a new product or service that may have been in the news. Or you can raise the subject of a hot issue in the industry and how it affects the company. That shows you’re up-to-speed with the latest developments while stressing your desire to think big picture.
Do you have any concerns I can address about my suitability for this position?
This is a great way to display your self-confidence. Just in case the interviewer has any lingering doubts you’re now showing that you’re bold enough and self-assertive enough to want the opportunity to address them. There’s nothing to lose by asking this question and everything to gain. It also transmits the message that you’re open-minded enough to accept criticism, get guidance and be coached. Perhaps, best of all it gives you a chance to summarize your strengths and move towards the conclusion of the interview on a high note.
What’s our next step?
Don’t walk away from the interview without finding out what happens next! What’s the plan? By asking this question it shows that you’re interested in moving forward. It is practical in terms of discovering when and how you might expect to hear something and the answer could also be revealing—giving you an indication of your chances of landing the job. (Major suggestion: Whatever the interviewer tells you regarding the next step it is essential that YOU quickly follow-up with a thank you note and confirmation of your interest in the position. I’m always amazed at how many otherwise bright, talented people fail to efficiently do the polite and professional thing and follow-up).
Bottom line: When asking your questions adopt a positive, interested tone. Certainly don’t sound like an interrogator or, alternatively, that you’re just running through a check list. Remember, you’re trying to show that you not only have a brain but also that you’re compatible. Your questions, as well as your answers, should confirm your qualifications for the position.
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