The Best Questions to Ask During an Interview
The best questions to ask during an interview are not related to benefits or salary. The best questions to ask an interviewer are…
questions about your own involvement in the job.
Asking questions at the end of an interview can be your time to find out more about your potential manager, the company you are applying to, and whether the job is the right one for you. Hiring managers sometimes hide the “nitty gritty” aspects of a job, hoping potential candidates accept a more difficult job than expected, most often at a lower salary than they deserve.
The best questions to ask during an interview are not related to benefits or salary. The best questions to ask an interviewer are questions about your own involvement in the job.
1. For example, “If I am chosen for this position, what will a typical day look like? Can you describe a typical workweek?” Get down to how your life will be like. If you spend 40-60 hours a week working, it would help to know exactly what your day will entail. Don’t settle for vague answers, ask for specific duties. If the job description states that you will be running reports and occasionally supporting other employees, it would be helpful to find out how many employees you would support and whether or not you will have one boss, or seven bosses.
2. “Why is this position open?” This is a risky question, but it can give you great insight into why the job is vacant. For example, I was once told that the employee before me was a temp. I later found out this was not true. I was the third person in my job within a year. If I knew this going in, I might have reconsidered taking the job. Alternatively, if you are taking a new job in a brand new department, you could ask about the future of that department. It might not survive future layoffs if the department is only experimental.
3. “Can you describe an ideal candidate for this position?” This is my favorite interview question. It diverts the attention from yourself to your interviewer. You learn about what he or she is looking for. A senior manager once told me she values someone who is a self-starter. That showed me that she values individual drive in the workplace.
4. “If I am hired for this position and decide to stay with the company, where do you see me in 5 years?” This is another provoking interviewing question. The interviewer will be forced to think about whether the job has any growth potential, and how he or she can “sell” you on it, even if it doesn’t have much to offer. If the interviewer is unclear about how you can move up or develop within the company, then that is your signal to look elsewhere. It’s better to wait to find the right job than to rush in for “just any” job.
5. “What do you like about this company? What do you like about your own job?” Again, this lets your interviewer talk about him or herself. It also helps your interviewer show passion or resentment, which would be a big signal to you as to whether to take the job. I asked my current boss this question during my first interview. The entire hour she seemed tense and downright mean until I asked this question and her face changed, completely. She revealed a big smile and spoke about all the wonderful people she works with and how she looks forward to coming into the office every day. I knew that she meant it and that she cared about the people she worked with. I didn’t regret accepting the job.
Lastly, it is important to ask duty-specific questions, especially about overtime and travel. These questions can be asked at the very end, after you have made your biggest impression. It is also good to stick to no more than 3-4 questions because your interviewer is more interested in your answers than his or her own. Interviews are only previews into what a job is truly like, that’s why it’s good to come prepared to learn as much as you can about a job, the manager, and the company’s working environment.