It’s not easy to come up with questions to ask in an interview, but it’s a must. Asking questions proves that you’re present in the interview and paying attention – not just smiling and nodding. Asking questions in an interview also leaves a great impression – Managers see candidates who ask questions as confident and critical thinking. But it’s not always easy to know what questions to ask and asking the wrong questions can give off a bad impression.
Coming up with questions is something you should think about before your interview. You get extra points if you write a couple of starter questions down in a notebook and bring them with you to the interview. Use your notebook to take notes during the interview as well, but use a clean professional looking notebook – no Hello Kitty!
Questions to ask a Recruiter or Human Resources Manager
The days of meeting with just one or two people in order to get a job are over. Nowadays candidates can meet with 4 or more people in rounds of interviews before a position is offered. This can make asking questions difficult as not everyone you meet with will have a direct impact on your day-to-day. Some may not even know what (your) role really entails.
Your first round of interviews will most likely be with a recruiter or a Human Resources Manager. Questions for this kind of interview should be more about the company, the people and the environment rather than the job itself. Some sample questions for interviewing with a recruiter are:
- How many people are in the department?
- How long has the direct manager been in the position?
- What happened to the person who previously had this role?
Think about any questions you may have about the company, department or people and ask them to the Recruiter or Human Resources Manager. But, a word of caution, questions that you can find out easily online should NOT be asked. You are expected to do a little homework before your interview and already know things like how long the company has been around and how many people work there.
Questions to ask in an interview with peers or people from different departments
It’s not unusual to have to interview with a peer from the department in which you would work or a few peers or managers from departments this role would interact with. When thinking of questions for this kind of interview, you want to keep the questions oriented to the work environment and process. Example questions for an interview with a peer would be:
- How long has the team worked together?
- How would our roles interact?
- What is the environment like here? Do you like it?
For interviewing with a peer or manager from a department different from the one you’d be working in, you’ll want to focus on process:
- How do our teams work together?
- Is there anything specific you or your team would like see come out of (my) role?
Questions to ask in an interview with a Hiring Manager or Direct Manager
This is the big one – the interview you need to nail in order to get the job. Come to this interview with at least 3 starter questions in mind, but be flexible. If the boss is talking a lot about hitting goals, then ask questions around that. If he or she’s focused more on building a cohesive team, then ask questions around that. Remember, asking questions shows you’re participating fully in the conversation. So keep your questions relevant to what you are both talking about and don’t forget – this is your opportunity to ask questions for which you may really want to know the answer. Some good starter questions for an interview with a hiring manager are:
- What do you want to see come out of this role?
- What would my day look like?
- What goals would you want the person in this role to hit?
Questions for your hiring manager should be focused on expectations – what does your potential boss expect out of this role and what can you expect to get out of this role? This is not where you’d ask about dress code or days off or pay. If they are seriously considering you, these things that will come up naturally. Bringing up pay at the wrong time can kill your chances at getting the number you want and in the mind of the manager, you shouldn’t be worried about days off now. You haven’t even been hired yet!
An interview is your chance to have an honest conversation about how you would fit into this role and the company at large. Use this opportunity to answer that question and you’ll put yourself in the best position possible for success.
PS. Don’t forget to smile.
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