When interviewing, many candidates don’t realize that the questions they ask are just as important as how they present themselves and the answers they give. Failing to ask questions shows a lack of genuine interest in the job. Asking foolish questions indicates the candidate didn’t do enough research prior to the interview. Making either mistake can cost a candidate the job offer.
Heather Krasna, author of Jobs That Matter: Find a Stable, Fulfilling Career in Public Service, advises job seekers to prepare a list of questions before the interview, much like they’d create a list of talking points that address the value they offer the employer.
“Every interview is different. Some interviewers will only give you the chance to ask two or three questions. Others will ask again and again if you have any questions, so prepare more questions than you think you will need in case this happens,” she says.
Developing a list of questions to ask is problematic for many job seekers. The following is an excerpt from her book, in which Krasna offers suggestions on the best questions to ask during a job interview and why:
1. “What are you seeking in the ideal candidate for this position?”
This question allows you to counter by adding any particular skills or qualities you have left out in the interview, but which the employer thinks are important.
2. “How would you describe your management style?”
When you are being interviewed by a hiring manager to whom you would report, this is a great question for gathering insight into whether you might get along.
3. “Can you give me some examples of the types of projects I may be working on?”
If the job description was a bit vague on the types of assignments you would be doing or if you are otherwise unclear on this point, this question is essential to ask.
4. “What do you like best about working for this organization?”
This question not only gives great insight into the culture of the organization, it also makes the person answering the question feel good. In addition, if the person answering can’t come up with something good to say, this is a red flag about the place you might be working!
5. “How did this position become available?”
This question is a bit pushy, but it is quite important if you do not know how the position opened. Is the organization expanding? Or did the last person leave, and can you subtly find out why?
6. “What would you like to see happen six-to-12 months after you hire a new person for this position?”
This question is akin to “How will I be evaluated?” or “How do you measure success in this role?” It can also clue you in on whether the expectations for the job are realistic.
7. “What resources are available for this position?”
This question addresses the technology, staff or budget resources you will have and gives many insights into whether the organization is being realistic about what you can accomplish given the resources available.
8. “Is there anything you are still wondering about my candidacy that might keep you from offering me the position? Is there anything further I should clarify?”
This question shows you are open to feedback or critique and also tells the employer you want every opportunity to reassure him or her that you would be a great employee.
9. “What is the next step in the process? May I have your business card?”
The final question can help relieve your anxiety after the interview because you at least have some clue about how long it will be before the employer gets back to you. Ask for business cards from each person interviewing you so you can send thank-you notes.
Krasna adds that there are also questions candidates should steer clear of asking during the interview. According to her, questions not to ask include inquiries about salary, scandals and office politics, and personal questions about the interviewer.
Selena Dehne is the author of JIST’s Job Search and Career Blog and shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers.