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questions to ask in a job interview… and a few to avoid

“Do you have any questions for me?”

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A lot of people assume that a job interview is a one way street when it comes to asking questions. Those people are probably the least successful when it comes to converting job interviews into jobs.

Asking questions is a necessity, not just for you, but also for your employer. You can gain the insights and knowledge necessary to find out if a role is suitable for you, while the interviewer can use the questions to make judgments about your character and skill set.

In some instances, there is no such thing as a stupid question. In this instance, there definitely is. Because we’re so nice, we’re going to show you the do’s and don’ts of asking questions in a job interview.

1) How would you describe the company culture to me?

Asking this question gives you an insight into the type of environment you will be working in and whether it suits your working style. It also shows the employer that you’re conscious of how you like to work, and in turn shows your ability to self-manage.

2) Do you have any doubts about my qualifications and previous experience?

A much better way of asking the all-too-common “How did I do”, this demonstrates to your interviewer that you’re open to constructive criticism, all while gaining valuable feedback about your performance.

3) If you had a sixth day in your working week, how would you spend it and why?

A personal favourite of this writer; it makes your interviewer think. It allows you to see into the working mind of your potential colleague and what they would do if they had the time; this could also open up the chance to assist their plans. A common answer to this question is, “That’s a good question…” before asking it back.

4) Do you offer any opportunities for further education/professional training?

Showing that you have a willingness to learn is super-important. In addition, it gives you some information on the employer’s commitment to you.

5) What challenges will the company face over the next few years?

This question shows your willingness to get stuck in and your interest in the company’s growth, while also allowing you to get a measure of the competition you will be battling against. Do a bit of homework into the company’s objectives before using this one. Do your goals align with the company’s?

6) You’ve hired a candidate for this role, and by the end of your first year they have exceeded your expectations. What is the most impressive thing they have done?

Asking this question shows the interviewer you have the necessary desire to succeed in a role. It also gives you a target to aim for; should the answer be truly impressive, it gives you something to aspire to.

7) How does the company deal with failure?

This is one of the most interesting questions at your disposal. In asking this, you find out a lot about company morale and culture. Do they finger-point or do they learn and rally? You want to make sure you’re in as positive an environment as possible.

8) How do you measure success?

Showing an understanding of the importance of measuring real, concrete performance is vital. It also shows that you are conscious of your own performance levels, and that you’re happy to be set targets or to be monitored.

9) What can you tell me about your vision and your plans for growth?

The answer to this question will give you a very good idea of how ambitious your potential employer is. Again, research before asking this question is a necessity; make sure you have examples from their product catalogue to bring to the table.

10) What skills do you look for in the ideal candidate?

This question forces their hand somewhat. Once this is asked, they have to give some more specific skills which are required to perform the job role. Leech off them; once he or she has listed off some specifics, bring in examples from your experience if you can.

You know how we mentioned before that there is such a thing as a stupid thing to ask? We thought it’d be wise to run these by you too, just to give you an indicator of the sort of stuff that will send you packing before you’ve even had your interview feedback.

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1) What’s my salary? What are the benefits?

Your salary is nothing, and the main benefit of the job is that you aren’t the one filling it…

2) Can I telecommute?

You’ve only just got to the office and you’re already talking about not being there? Bad vibes, buddy.

3) Anything to do with background checks/legal policies.

Want to know about drugs policy or whether they do criminal records checks? I wonder why…

4) What does your company do?

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5) Do not get personal with the interviewer.

Don’t ask the interviewer any personal questions. You don’t know what could offend them. Get to know them, but don’t do anything other than scratch the surface.

6) How did I do?

Badly.

7) ME, ME, ME

Self-centered people get nowhere. Interviewers get to be self-centric if they want to because they’re in a position to do so. Show a measure of selflessness in your lines of questioning.

8) How much help will I get?

Don’t give off any indication that you can’t hit the ground running. Unless full training is offered, you should need little in the way of help.

9) Bounce-back.

Asking the questions that you just got asked is a huge nope. Don’t interview the interviewer.

10) Nothing.

The worst thing you can do is ask nothing at all. Asking nothing shows disinterest. If you don’t go in with at least some of the ten questions you should ask (you should really be asking those ten and then some), then don’t bother turning up at all.

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