Questions to ask at a job interview

'Do you have any questions?'

‘Do you have any questions?’ is generally asked at the conclusion of every job interview.  Why? Well, first of all, it’s where the interview panel identify (if they haven’t already done so) how interested you are in the position and how much you know about their organisation.   If you don’t have any pre-prepared questions – or ask the wrong questions – it’s probably going to cost you the job – and by the way, yes, you can take a list of your questions to the interview as it shows the interview panel that you have prepared for the interview and you are serious about working for their organisation.

How to respond to 'do you have any questions?'

Always respond ‘YES’ and these are the questions you should consider asking to make a good impression on the interview panel (and they don’t have to be all of these – usually 3 – 5 questions is appropriate):

‘Can you tell me about the team I would be working with?’ – this is a great question as it really shows the interview panel you’ve made up your mind you want to work for the organisation – they want, and need, to know this to make up their mind whether you are worth hiring.

‘Is this a newly created position or has someone been working in the role?’ – another great question as it provides you with the information on whether you have big foot-prints to fill, or whether you will have an opportunity to develop the role further from the job description that has been prepared.  If it is a newly created position it will also give you an opportunity to ‘shine’ as the expectations are to fulfill the position description – go above and beyond that and you will really stand-out in the organisation.

‘What made the former person in the role successful?’ – this is assuming you are filling a position that is not newly created and will give you the information that you need to really stand-out in the position.  The interview panels response could be ‘they always worked extra hours when we had big orders to fulfill’ or ‘they would help out in other departments when we were short-staffed’ or ‘the quality of their work was always outstanding’ – whatever the interview panels responses are, it gives you an opportunity to state your enthusiasm for the role by confirming you would be prepared to do all of the above and in fact, have done so with your current employer.

‘Will there be a handover for the position?’ – again, this question reinforces your enthusiasm for working with the organisation and that you already see yourself in the advertised position.  It is a question that the interview panel would expect to be asked and their response will provide you with the information on how long you are going to be supported during the early days of your appointment, if in fact at all.

‘Apart from my experience and skills, what other things would you be hoping to see from me in this position?’ – this is a yet another great question as it again, really shows the interview panel you’ve made up your mind you want to work the organisation and their response will provide you with the information you would need to be successful in the position.

‘What are the prospects for advancement with the company?’ – this question shows you are looking for a long-term career with the organisation and are not just seeking a job – which is really important for the panel as onboarding (training and/or upskilling) of a new employee costs both time and money.

‘If I were successful, when would you like me to start – how much notice would I need to give at my current job?’ – this question shows you are not only serious about working for this organisation but also that you are a pragmatic individual and considerate of your existing employer.

‘How does the organisation maintain a positive culture and why do employees like to work here?’ – this is an important question for two reasons: firstly, the focus is off you selling yourself to the organisation, the interview panel now has to sell the organisation to you; and secondly, the panels responses could really influence your decision on whether this would be a great career move – or it may reveal that in fact, it’s an organisation you would rather not work for.

‘What’s the next steps in the interview process?’ – you really need to ask this question – as again, it reinforces your enthusiasm for the position – and secondly, you are not going to leave the interview and hang by the phone for the next few weeks.  The interview panel may advise that they have several more candidates to interview or they may not.  They may advise that they expect to make a decision at the end of the week or by the end of the month.  They may advise that there will be a second round of interviews of the shortlisted candidates.  With this information, you will be aware of what time-frames will be involved in the selection of the successful candidate and when you can expect to be contacted.

What questions NOT to ask at a job interview

‘What’s the salary?’ – if the salary for the position has not been posted – don’t ask what it is – this information may or may not be conveyed at the interview – or it could be revealed at a second interview or by a phone or written offer for the position.  By doing research on similar advertised jobs, you should have a fair idea of what the salary for the advertised position will be.  If you do ask this question, the interview panel will assume you are just seeking a job and not a long-term career with their organisation.

‘What does the organisation do?’ – if you don’t have this information already by conducting research on the organisation’s website and/or searching their other online presence, you shouldn’t have turned up for the interview and are wasting the interview panel’s time and your own.

The final word: Always respond YES to ‘do you have any questions’ and ask the RIGHT questions.

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