For those of us that have attended countless job interviews, you know that at the end of the interview, you will most likely be asked if you have questions to ask. Raise your hands if you are one of those people that never have any question. I’m quick to say “no, I don’t have any question” for fear that I may ask a question that will end up jeopardising my chances of getting the job.
Some people even advise that when prepping for an interview, you shouldn’t ask your would-be employers questions. A friend calls it “showing yourself“. She says “it’s better for you not to have any question than for you to go and start showing yourself“. Showing oneself is a colloquial way of calling someone a show-off. But isn’t that the essence of an interview – to show off your skills and expertise with the hope of impressing the interviewer?
It is important to remember that an interview is a two-way street. The employer wants to get to know you in order to ascertain if you have the qualities that suits the role. Also, a would-be employee should ask questions so that he can decide if the job is the best fit and if the company’s goals aligns with his.
Another thing people don’t know is that when you don’t ask questions, the interviewer assumes that you are not interested or haven’t prepared adequately for the interview. This, however, does not mean that you should formulate questions when you genuinely do not have one.
So, what kind of questions should you be asking an interviewer? Asking smart and engaging questions is important. Your questions should show that you’ve done your research and you are very interested in the job. Open-ended questions are the best. Do not ask yes or no questions, or questions that are too complex.
Here are some of the questions you can ask:
In my opinion, this should be the very first question you ask the interviewer, especially if you know you are filling someone’s shoes. Why did the person leave? The reason I consider this question important is not for the answer, but for the interviewer’s body language. If the person was promoted or headhunted, the chances of the interviewer responding to your question is high. However, there is a likelihood that the interviewer may not respond where it is otherwise.
Most adverts on job vacancies typically provide a brief description of what the job entails. Often times, the description is not as detailed as you would expect. So, the interview is your chance to learn about the role and your day-to-day tasks. This will help you gain more insight and decide if this is the job you really want.
You need to know what the work culture is. Is it a hostile environment filled with backstabbing? Do you have to flatter egos or kiss a**es in order to get promoted? Do they prioritise the employee’s happiness? What is the company’s philosophy? The answers to these questions will help you decide if you will be miserable at that office.
If you see yourself in this role for a long time, it is good to know the company’s vision. A growing company will help you to also grow career wise.
Inasmuch as it is good to ask about the biggest opportunities facing the company/firm, it is also important to note the challenges. What are the possible challenges that the company may be facing. This will help you identify areas that may need your skills so that you can help unravel these issues for the company.
This gives you the opportunity to know the company from the interviewer’s perspective.
Or in the words of my friend, “when can I start?” This question helps you to set expectations for yourself on when you will hear from the company, whether good or bad. The one thing I’ve noticed most interviewers say after an interview is “we’ll be in touch“. That’s the vaguest phrase I’ve ever heard. I’m almost forced to ask them “when? When will you be in touch?”. It is important to get a timeline for the hiring so that you can follow up appropriately.
Do not forget that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. Have you updated your resume/CV? When was the last time you reviewed your CV to root out the irrelevant information that you no longer need? Have you lied in your CV? Check out this post on why not lying in your CV is the first career commandment.