A good interview is a two-way street. It might not seem like it if you’re nervous, but interviews are as much about you assessing your potential employer as they are about seeing if you could be a good fit for the job.
Asking the right questions can help you learn more about the company, discover if the job description matches up with the team’s actual expectations, and get a better feel for the dynamics and culture that you couldn’t get from anywhere else.
Worried about what interviewers may ask? Check out these common interview questions and answers.
By preparing well thought out, relevant questions, you not only show you are interested and prepared but also that you are serious about the position you have applied for. Just be careful your questions couldn’t have been answered with a quick search online or a little more research into the company.
We’ve put together a few quick questions – along with how they can be beneficial – to get you started.
What do you like about working here?
Being asked why you want to work there is a pretty common interview question. By turning the question back to them, you can tell a lot about both them and the company itself. If they struggle to come up with reasons why they enjoy working there, why it’s a good team to be part of or how their job makes them feel, it could be a sign that things aren’t quite as rosy as they may appear.
Can you tell me more about the team/department I would be working with/for?
Asking more about the team (or department) not only shows an interest in your potential future colleagues, but it can give you a better insight into their dynamics. Hearing what a manager thinks about their colleagues or how well different departments know how other teams work can give more away than you might think.
Take note of how they answer: is their body language open or closed? Is their tone positive, negative or neutral, and how confident do they appear to be in what they are saying? Disconnection between departments, while not necessarily uncommon, can be a sign of a stressful or disjointed working culture. Managers who speak ill of their colleagues in an interview can be a warning sign of a toxic culture or a deeply unhappy team.
While these aren’t necessarily signs you shouldn’t still consider a position, getting a better idea of the kind of people you will be working with, the general feel and mood of the company, office and culture can give you that all-important insight into what to really expect in the role. The last thing you want to do is to leave one job where you may be unhappy to dive straight into a new team with low morale or high levels of discontent.
Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?
This gives you the chance to learn as much as possible about the role and whether it is right for you, whilst giving you a greater insight into the specific skills and strengths your potential employers feel are needed. This also opens up the opportunity for you to address any topics that haven’t already been covered or relate any skills you have that you feel could be a good fit with these newly discovered expectations.
How will you measure success for this role?
If this hasn’t already been made clear during the course of your interview, it’s worth clarifying the specific expectations of the role and what is expected. This can be a good way to clarify which aspects of the role are actually the most important, as well as to weed out which parts of the job description may have been more of an HR boilerplate, and less actual expectations.
How did this role come about?
Discovering if this is a new role or a newly opened position can help you find out if there is room to progress in the company. It can also highlight if there have been recent challenges or changes that have brought about the need for this role or if there are specific expectations or company goals this position looks to fill. Following up with how they expect the role to develop or change over the coming months can be a good way to continue and gain a better insight into expectations they may not realise they have.
Tell me more about the company culture.
You can’t go far on social media without stumbling across an article that rags on millennials for their focus on company culture. Whether you’ve really considered it before or not, it’s actually a huge part of your job. When you consider how much time you spend at work with colleagues, knowing what the atmosphere and culture are like can have a huge impact on your stress levels, the expectations your team or management have of you, as well as the general well-being and mood.
Company culture doesn’t have to mean free snacks in the lunchroom and an early Friday finish; it can mean no company-wide events outside of an annual picnic, expectations from managers (or clients) to be available by phone or email outside of working hours, or the general attitude that everyone stays until a deadline is met at the end of each week, month, or quarter.
If you’re feeling brave or think things are going well, you may want to ask
What is the typical career path for someone in this role within the company?
This can give a greater insight into whether the company has a pathway for promotion for this specific role, as well as a better idea generally if they tend to promote from within. This can also give the impression that you are interested in how the company and those within can grow and progress past their initial expectations. Just be careful you don’t sound like you are angling for a more senior position, or are scoping out the possibility of a speedy pay rise.
How do I compare with the other candidates you have interviewed for this role?
While this can be a little risky, as it can put interviewers in an awkward position, it can also open up the opportunity to tackle any concerns or queries they may have about you as a candidate. If you have built a good rapport and things have gone well, the interviewer may raise any areas they aren’t fully satisfied with yet or in which they think you may be lacking, providing you with the opportunity to show your strengths or provide better examples of how you fit the role.
May I ask what the next steps in the interview process are?
Finishing up with a question about the next steps can be a good way to find out more about how the process is set to continue and what kind of timeline the hiring manager has in mind. This can give you a better idea of when to follow up, and how long you may be expecting to wait before you hear back from them.
A few quick, general things to keep in mind
- Where possible, try to keep your questions focused and open-ended. Avoid yes or no questions as this can kill the rapport. Try not to make your questions so broad or complex that they are too difficult to answer; you’re not trying to stump the interviewers, you’re aiming to create a rapport and a positive, lasting impression.
- Try to have at least four or five questions prepared before your interview. While you may only be expected to ask one or two, having a few more on hand can provide a good backup in case your questions are answered during the course of the interview.
- Avoid asking questions about the position’s salary and benefits. These are best saved for further discussions with the hiring manager or HR rep at a future stage. Try to keep your questions thoughtful, relevant and engaging. Make sure you’re asking out of genuine interest or for further insight.