This is one part of the interview process that a lot of people just simply forget to prepare for. This is unfortunate because it is a great opportunity to highlight your skills and your knowledge of the company or organization.
Asking proper questions shows that you are engaged in the interview and demonstrates that you have been actively listening. You want to give the interviewer as much positive information about yourself as possible and your question period is a great time to add some points that may have been missed in the interviewer’s questions. It won’t really matter to them if some points have been missed, but it can sure matter to your chances of getting the job.
By not asking questions, employers will wonder if you have the courage to ask questions on the job. Asking questions is a natural part of work life and is the basis upon which some professional relationships are built.
The questions asked should be about them, not you. This is a time to find out what the employer needs from you, how you can help them, struggles they need to overcome, and expectations when you begin work.
You don’t want to spout off dozens of questions and test the interviewer either. The interview should be a two-way communication. You are not trying to “beat” or out-wit the interviewer. This can come off as too aggressive and can show that you are not a strong team player; again, it shows more me, not them.
Okay, so you get the idea that you need to ask questions, but what questions should you ask? I want to give you a few examples of good question to ask the interviewer. I also want to show you some questions that could actually affect you negatively.
Hopefully this information will give you more confidence when you are faced with that all important question, “Do you have any questions for me?”
1. Asking to clarify something discussed in the interview.
Chances are you discussed something in the interview that you did not fully grasp, but did get some key information. This is the time to clarify things. This is also a great technique because it shows that you were actually listening during the interview. Active listening is a major part of communication (which is an essential skill for any job) and validating active listening can only help your chances of success.
2. Ask questions you asked yourself while researching the company.
Yes, do research on the company! Make sure you read as much about the company as possible. You can find information on their website, annual reports, websites like Glassdoor.com or PayScale.com, or forums where employees talk about their experiences with the company.
You may come across some information that you would like to learn more about. I remember looking at a particular bank job that had online learning courses employees could take. I remember asking myself if these courses were mandatory and what topics were covered? These are great questions because it shows that you have put time into learning about the company and shows that you are interested in what they have to offer.
3. What are some of the qualities and attributes of top performers in your company?
An alternate question could be, “How would you describe an ideal candidate?” This is a very important question for two major reasons. Firstly, you want to know if you are a good fit with the company culture. If you find out that the qualities of the top performers are exactly opposite to your qualities, it may be best that you pass on the job. It’s better to turn down a job then to get fired from one that you could not perform in. Secondly, you want to perform! The easiest way to find out the key skills to performing in the company is to find out how the top performers do it.
4. What are a few things that bring the strongest results to the company?
This is similar to the last question in that it is there to set you up for success. If the company has a particular product, service, or process that gives great results, you want to get in on that action as soon as possible. Remember that the whole point of a job in the eyes of the employer is to add value to the company (aka: the value you add > your pay). You want to be familiar with the things that make the company profitable because you want to be able to make the company profitable.
5. What are 3 priorities that you would like to see me achieve first in this position?
An alternate to this question could be something along the lines of, “What is the most important thing I can help you achieve in the first 90 days of my employment?” This type of questions shows that you are already thinking about the job and ways to be successful. It shows that you are interested in bringing results to the company. This is a great way to get two steps ahead of the competition.
6. What skills does your company’s team currently lack and how will this position help fill that need?
This question really shows that you understand how a company or team works. You understand that you have a role within the company and a specific task that is used as part of a whole. Jobs are created because there is a necessary skill that is lacking; if you can effectively show that you can fulfill this need, then you are much better off than others applying for the job.
7. How does this role help support what you need to accomplish and what can I do to make your job easier?
This question takes the emphasis off you and places it on the employer. It shows that you truly care about making the employer’s life easier. This is the whole point of the employer hiring you, if they could do the job themselves without sacrificing energies, they would. This also shows that you understand the employee-boss relationship. You are there to be a supportive function towards the goals of the company, division, or boss. This question may need to be altered if you are not talking directly to the “boss”. If you are talking to HR, you would adjust it by say something like”… help support the project lead…”
8. What are the long term goals of the company (or branch of the company) and how will this job, and ultimately me, help achieve those goals?
Hopefully this job will be a long-term job for you. One of the best ways to ensure your longevity in the company is to match their long-term goals to your own. If the company is dedicated in moving towards one direction, don’t spend 70% of your time going in an opposite direction. This question shows that you are a supportive member of the team and that you are thinking about the employer’s best interests (if you think they are going in the wrong direction or are doing things backwards try to find another company, or better still, start your own company!).
9. What do you enjoy most about working for this company?
It can feel a little funny asking this question, but it makes the interview much more personal and can produce a great conversation. If you can find out what part of the interviewer’s personality really clicks with the company, and you share those same traits, then you have hit a sweet spot and can easily get the interviewer to identify with you. You’ll also get to see if that person really does enjoy the company (remember that body language does not lie) and could give you a warning if the company treats their employees poorly.
10. What can I do for you as a follow up?
This question helps you understand the company’s application process. The more you offer to help in that process, the easier the job becomes for the recruiter. The easier you make the job for the recruiter, the better chances they will look at you in a positive light and envision you providing that same help when you begin working.
And one more for good luck…
11. Now that we have talked about my qualifications, do you have any concerns about me fulfilling this position?
This is a fantastic ending question. You’ve got to the point where you feel you have shown your abilities, skills, and personality. But that doesn’t mean the employer thinks you are the perfect person for the job. They may still have a lingering concern floating around in their head that has not been addressed. By asking them to bring their concerns forward, it gives you a chance to alleviate those concerns with some reassuring points. You don’t want the interviewer to leave with any doubts about you in their head. Find out what needs to be addressed and address it.
Now that we have discussed the right questions to ask during the interview, let’s discuss the wrong questions to ask as well. Unfortunately these are common questions that people ask all the time.
1. What is the salary for the position? What is in the benefits package?
It’s unbelievable that many people still ask this question. The problem with this question is that it’s all about you. It is a question that fulfills your needs, not the companies. It can also come across as being money hungry, which is an impression you don’t want to give the interviewer. You want to show that you are passionate about the job and company.
You eventually do want to talk about pay, but not during the interview. Leave the pay question for when you have been offered the job. Sometimes though, the interview will pop you the pay question and avoiding it is impossible.
In this case, you want to first make sure they have all the information they need. Ask, “Before we talk about salary, are there any questions or concerns about my skills or qualifications that you need to know or would like to clarify for the position.” You don’t want to bring your offer to the table without showing all your benefits. You then want to give them a realistic pay range. You do not want to pick a number off the top off your head, so research what the average salary for the position is. I suggest a website like PayScale.com to find out ranges for people with similar qualifications and experience as you. You then have the confidence to present a realistic range for salary.
2. What does your company do?
Do not ask this question! You should know what the company does because you should have researched the company’s website, their annual reports, websites like Glassdoor, and forums where people are talking about the company.
But what if the company does not have a website, you ask? Well it is very unlikely that they do not have a website, plus there are other ways of finding information (even calling the company direct is a good strategy). But if they truly do not have a website, use it to your advantage. Tell them you notice they do not have a website and ask if they are planning to launch one soon. If you understand HTML and CSS you can tell them that in addition to the job advertised, you would be able to help build a new site. Finding ways to stand out from the crowd is very important.
3. How many vacation days do I get and when can I start taking them?
This is similar to the salary question; there is a time and a place to ask this. You obviously want to let the employer know if you have an important date coming up, but you don’t want it to affect your job chances. Wait until they become interested in you.
4. Do I have the job?
Slow down tiger. Give them time. They will let you know if you have the job. All you can do at this point is show that you are the best person for the job. The decision will be based on how you meet the requirements and what impression you left in the interview. Don’t mess things up by being impatient.
5. Will I be guaranteed the job a year from now?
You unfortunately are not in the position to be asking this or demanding it from an employer. You have to prove that you belong in the company and that they should keep you. There are no guarantees in jobs these days; you can only guarantee your success by the effort you put in.
6. Don’t ask questions the interviewer cannot answer.
You want to display to the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job. The purpose is not to out-wit the interviewer. Doing this will only negatively affect you and distance yourself from the interviewer.
7. Don’t say, “No, you have answered all my questions. Thank you.”
This is the worst way to answer the interviewer’s question. They are looking for more information from you so make it happen. Some interviewers deliberately leave out questions to see if you will bring them up. And sometimes, interviewers only want questions asked by you, so if you are not prepared for it, your chances of landing that job fall drastically.
So there are my tips for answering that dreaded question, “Do you have any question for me?” I hope they have helped you get a better picture of the interview process and what employers are looking for.
As always, leave a comment if you have some input on the topic. If you have a story about an interview that went great or poorly at the “Do you have any questions for me?” stage, please share it with us below.
Thanks for reading and good luck out there!