Interview questions: what to ask, and what NOT to ask
It’s the end of an interview, and you’ve been engaging, bright, enthusiastic and know this is the perfect job for you. And then the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”. You DID have some interview questions, but now your mind goes blank. You can’t think of a single thing to ask. Your heart races and you mutter, “No, I don’t think so. I think you’ve covered everything.” At this point, the interviewer looks rather disappointed and you can see that dream role slipping away from you.
According to Brendan Browne, Global Head of Talent for LinkedIn, one of the main ways an interviewer remembers your candidates is by the questions they ask. “If people don’t have questions, that’s a concern,” he recently told CNBC. “It’s sort of impossible to not have questions. You won’t get everything in a 45-minute interview that you need.”
Sjoerd Gehring, Global VP of Talent Acquisition at Johnson & Johnson, revealed the smartest question that candidates asked at the end of interviews: “Why has the person in this role decided to leave?”. “This can be a very revealing question,” explained Gehring. “Why is the position you’ve applied for available? Is it because the previous person has been promoted or moved to a different team? Why did the person leave to join another company? Or did they not meet expectations? If the recruiter hesitates or becomes evasive, that could tell you everything you need to know. Equally, stay alert and if you sense it’s time to move the conversation on, gently change the subject to something else, or ask a new question that’s easier to answer.”
Interviews are a two-way street, and it gives you, the jobseeker, a good idea of what life is like at the company and if you can really see yourself working there. You need to have some good questions up your sleeve to show yourself in a positive light, with your knowledge of the company, interest in the role and whether the job will be a good fit for you. You are essentially our own ambassador, so here are some questions that will leave your interviewer dazzled by your genius. (Write them down if you think you might forget them.)
About the company:
I saw on your website that you have recently been involved with x, y, z. Can you please tell me more about it?
Does the company support ongoing training and education for employees to stay in their current fields?
What is your strategy for corporate growth in the next five years?
Who do you consider to be your biggest competitor, and why?
How do you engage with your employees or what is your employee engagement strategy?
What is the company’s management style, and what’s the company culture like here?
How many people are there in the team?
About the job:
Would you like me to do anything differently than the previous people who held this job? If so, what?
What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?
What is the typical career path for this role?
What does a typical day look like in terms of this role and how do you interact with other teams?
What responsibilities have the highest priority?
How do you see this position evolving in the next three years?
Is there anything you need me to prepare going forward? How many stages are there in the interview process?
Ask the interviewer:
What made you decide to join the company?
What’s your favourite thing about working here?
What can you tell me about the position that isn’t in the job description?
What have you found to be the biggest challenge about working here?
What has allowed you to be successful here?
What do you consider to be the company’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?
And just in case you were wondering, here are some questions NOT to ask:
How late can I be to work without getting fired?
Does this company monitor Internet usage?
What is the longest time I can take for lunch?
How many warnings do you get before you are fired?
What is the earliest I can leave?