So you landed that coveted interview with your dream company, or maybe you’ve been discovered by a recruiter and you want to feel out your options. Maybe you’re interviewing for your first job ever, or you’re a seasoned professional in your field looking for your next opportunity. No matter what, one thing remains true – the interview process is extremely important to landing that next gig.
You’ve done all your research. You’ve picked out the perfect outfit to compliment your well-crafted and perfectly-anticipated answers. But maybe you’ve forgotten one thing – that the interview process works both ways. Yes, the focus is mainly on you as the candidate, but in almost every interview there will come a point when the interviewer asks if YOU have any questions. The correct answer here is always, “Why yes, yes I do.”
You should have at least two to three questions prepared for your interviewer that will be valuable to your decision in taking the job should it be offered to you. Not only will you gain helpful information, but you will also show your interviewer that you truly care about the company and the position.
Here are three categories that these questions should fall into:
Understanding the company culture and its values is hugely important in your decision whether or not to take the job. These questions also signal to your interviewer that you care about the company you work for, and want to make sure you’ll be able to contribute as best you can. Questions in this category might go something like…
How long have you been at this company and what is your favorite part of working here?
How would you describe the overall culture of this company and what are the values this company holds?
What makes you proud to be a part of this company overall?
Specific Job Duties/The Ideal Candidate
This is your chance to clarify anything that might be unclear about the job itself, and really get to the core of what your interviewer is looking for in the right candidate. Asking these questions will highlight your attention to detail and desire to be the perfect fit for the role. Questions in this category include…
What does this role look like on a daily basis?
What are you looking for in the ideal candidate to fill this role?
How would the ideal candidate carry out this role on the day-to-day?
Next Steps in the Process
These kinds of questions will help your planning and peace of mind, while also allowing your interviewer to see how organized you are. They will also be impressed that you are already looking forward to getting as close to working at the company as you can. Questions in this category might look like…
What are the next steps in the interview process for this position?
When should I expect to hear from you about moving forward with the hiring process?
Are there any additional materials I can provide that will be helpful in making your decision?
Remember to follow up with each answer your interviewer gives. For instance, if you ask about the ideal candidate and they mention a skill you have but haven’t talked about yet, point it out! If you ask about the company values and they align with yours, make sure you make that clear. You don’t need to overload your interviewer with questions and follow with excessive answers, just continue the conversation a bit about how you’re the perfect candidate for the position.
Now, I can’t send you off into your question-filled interview without a quick warning about what NOT to ask. If the world of interview etiquette were wrapped up in a fun little package, the warning label would go something like this…
Avoid asking questions about the following: employee discounts, the singleness/attractiveness/social lives of your interviewer or the employees at the company, extremely picky questions about workplace policies or etiquette (i.e., can I leave early if I get my work done?), anything pay or benefits related (especially in the first round of interviews – you will be able to negotiate with HR once you’ve been offered the position).
My rule of thumb – is this question intentional, appropriate, and beneficial to my decision-making as well as that of the interviewer? If yes, then what are you waiting for? You have an interviewer or two to go impress!