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You should aim for your interviews to feel more like a conversation than an interrogation by making sure you come to the meeting with a few pre-prepared and varied questions. Don’t be afraid to have a pen and paper to take note of the answers too.
Here are some questions to ask your interviewer, divided up into six sections:
The answer to this question will reveal whether the role has expanded to absorb modern practices and technology over time. The question shows you are keen to keep pace with advances, and have a positive attitude to change. You could use the conversation around this question to exhibit your knowledge of recent industry trends and developments.
You’ll also be able to understand from the interviewer’s answer how much the employer allows their employees to shape their own roles, which can in turn be a good indicator of a strong, trusting culture, put in place to empower employees.
This is another classic question, which shows you have career ambitions and want to get on in the world. It will also reveal something about how talent is nurtured and promoted within the organisation.
This is a tactful way of determining exactly what skills and experience are required for the role. You can use the interviewer’s appraisal of your predecessor to gauge exactly what it is you need to do to take the role to the next level.
This is the best question to help you visualise yourself in the role; you can then decide whether it’s for you or not.
If possible, try and research your colleagues before the interview process. If not, or on top of that, try and find out as much as possible about them from the interviewer. Getting on with your colleagues is crucial to your job satisfaction – 70 per cent of workers say having friends at work is the most important element to a happy working life.
It can be difficult to understand the full extent of your role from a job description two paragraphs long, so use the interview to establish which departments you’ll be liaising with most often. You can then decide whether your skillset is well suited to the role or not.
This question signals your interest in working as a team as you want to know where you will fit in and contribute to the organisations long-term success.
This is a good way of finding out about the organisation’s priorities, which you can then compare against your own. It will also help you understand what the business expects from their employees, leading on to further conversation around how individual performance is measured.
Understanding your interviewer’s background and why they were selected to work for the employer can help you shape your own answers about what you might bring to the role. This question is also helpful in building rapport and finding common ground with the interviewer – something which is key to your interview success.
This is one of those seemingly innocent questions that can tell you a lot about the work culture at the organisation. It can also be a way of communicating your desire to work in a positive environment, and that you’re someone who likes to get the best out of yourself. After all, a convivial work environment has a remarkable effect on the overall productivity and success of an organisation.
If you know the business has recently launched a new product or service, for example, you could work this into the question by asking how the new product is being received – showing them that you’ve done your research. The obvious follow-up is to then use this information to demonstrate how well suited you are to help them resolve their challenges.
There are many other questions you could ask about the business; however most of the answers, unlike the other sections in this blog, will be available for you to discover online.
You can use the answer to draw conclusions about how employees are treated in this company. If there are only a few long-term employees, this should make you suspicious.
This is a searching question that signals your focus on building your career. You don’t want to get stuck. You want to know there’s a structured, pro-active approach to assessing individual performance, and that you won’t be forgotten about. It also shows that you welcome feedback.
This is a standard question but an important one to ask, not only for your own sake but to show you’re interested in acquiring new skills which will be of benefit to you and the organisation. Having access to adequate training resources is crucial to your professional growth, no matter what stage of your career you’re at.
Don’t forget to ask what comes next! You can then prepare yourself adequately for the next stage of the hiring process.
The conversation during the interview should never become a one-sided question-and-answer game, as this can be very exhausting in the long run. A balanced, interesting exchange, on the other hand, benefits both of you and is also fun.
Ask only for relevant and useful information, otherwise you'll quickly appear to be a little overconfident. In addition, it should be a matter of course to listen carefully when your questions are being answered.
Just ask the right questions – then you have a good chance of reaching the next stage in the application process and, above all, you can better assess whether you actually want this to happen.