Questions to Ask Potential Employer During a Job Interview

So, we're at that point in the interview process where the table turns and the interviewee becomes the interviewer. This is where the hiring manager or recruiter provides you with the opportunity to ask questions, usually stated as just…"Do you have any questions for me?"

Don't give in to the temptation to answer, "No, you’ve pretty much covered all I wanted to know." Your answer to this question needs to be a resolute "Yes", but you'll need to be prepared. Asking the wrong questions can be worse than asking no questions at all.

One of the purposes of asking your potential next employer questions is to determine whether or not the company and job are a good match for you. Unless you're desperate for a job, it's just as important that you screen the company as it is that they screen you. You are also trying to show the interviewer that you have an interest in the job and the company. Don't underestimate the importance of this simple gesture.

Focusing on the interview process in this way has a bonus in that it will likely remove some of the anxiety as you realize you have an active role in determining whether or not the job is for you. It can also help to move the interview from a formal process to one that is a more casual and easy exchange of information. You should prepare a list of questions, so that you can draw from them as needed. Just be sure not to ask questions that have already been answered earlier in the interview or listed in the job description, or could easily be found with some research.

Questions a candidate may wish to ask an interviewer include:

  • What are the most important skills and attributes you are looking for in filling this position?
  • What brought you to (organization)? What keeps you here?
  • What do you feel makes (company) stand out from your competitors?
  • What is the most important contribution a person in this position can make to the team/company?
  • How would you describe a typical working day for this position?
  • Can you tell me a bit about each of the other employees in the department?
  • Based on what you've seen of my qualifications and experience, what do you believe I can bring to the team?
  • Do you have any concerns or hesitations about my ability to fulfill the requirements of the position?
  • What do you feel are the biggest challenges of this position?
  • How do you evaluate the success of an employee in this position?
  • Are regular performance appraisals and evaluations given?
  • What do you feel are the most important traits in a subordinate?
  • Why is there a vacancy for this position?
  • If not a new position – How often has it been filled in the past five years? What were the main reasons?
  • If it is not a new position – Has anything about the position been changed since the last person?
  • What kind of training and learning opportunities are available?
  • What do you like most about working here?
  • If you could change anything about (organization), what would it be?
  • What words would you use to describe the culture and work environment here?
  • How would you describe your management style and philosophy?
  • What is your time frame on hiring?
  • What is the next step in the hiring process?
  • When can I expect to hear back from you?
  • I've really appreciated learning more about the job and the company. May I contact you at a later time if any further questions arise?
  • Do you have a business card?

With a little forethought, you'll be able to come up with many more questions. Stay away from questions regarding pay, benefits, vacation time, sick leave, etc during the interview process. Those questions can be posed when a job offer is made.

Smile. Be gracious. Listen attentively. Answer thoughtfully. Go prepared. Stay positive. Get the job you want. Don't settle and don't compete for something you don't want. No one wins that way.

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