Best questions to ask in your next job interview
Job seekers typically pour all of their preparation and energy into three things: crafting the resume/CV; writing the cover letter (or other discursive application materials); and coming up with good answers to their interview questions. Let’s say you nail all three. Your resume has been successfully selected from a pile of tens or maybe even hundreds of other candidates; your cover letter did its job and inspired the hiring manager to find out more about you; and you aced all of the questions asked of you in the interview.
What more is there for you to do but sit back and wait for the job offer?
Yes, there is more you should be doing because not preparing for this part of the interview process can determine whether or not you get that final offer. Many job seekers don’t realize how much hangs on one final little question typically asked by the hiring manager in at the end of the interview: “Do you have any questions for me?”
Coming up with good questions to ask the hiring manager or hiring committee is one of the most neglected parts of the interview process, as most candidates are just so relieved that they’ve managed to get in all of their talking points and avoid any serious blunders. Understandably, they see the interview as solely focused on them and expanding on their experiences, education, and skill sets.
Simply put, most job candidates spend their time thinking about how to answer questions in the job interview, not how to ask them.
But this can be a big mistake. If you don’t have a few well-researched, thoughtful questions ready to go, the hiring manager will likely think that you’re unprepared and under-researched, you don’t really care about the specific company or role, you’re not a serious candidate, or, worse, they may not think of you at all. Candidates who don’t ask good questions and create a substantive back-and-forth dialogue with the hiring manager are much easier to forget as they seem much less engaged and interested in the job. They simply fall off the radar.
But what if all your questions were already answered during the interview? Or, what if you’re just not sure what to ask? In addition to raising any specific questions you have about the company or the position, here are a few solid go-to questions that will impress any hiring manager and give them the sense that you’ve done your homework and you’re truly interested in learning as much as you can about how your talents and background can bring value to their company/team/department.
- What are the biggest challenges I’d be likely to face in this role?
- Where do you see the company headed in 5 years? What are the biggest changes on the horizon, and how would these changes affect my role or responsibilities?
- What do you personally like most about working here?
- Can you tell me more about the history of this position?
- What are the most important things you’d like me to accomplish in the first 3 months or year on the job? What takes highest priority right away?
- What do the senior leaders in the company care about the most?
- What are the most important things you hope I will accomplish in this position?
- Is there anything we haven't discussed that most candidates ask about?
- Is there anything else you need from me to make your decision?
Memorize at least a few of these before every interview so that you always have a few intelligent fall-back questions to ask.