You got the interview, you showed up on time, you presented yourself well. Your interviewer asked you questions, and you answered with poise. Now you’ve got one last shot at standing out as the candidate of choice – it’s your turn to ask questions.
Like every aspect of your interview, this part requires preparation. It’s also the part of the interview over which you have the most control. The floor is yours. How will you use this time?
This is your opportunity to find out what you need to know, and to show off a little while you do. You’re also giving your interviewer (especially if they’re your potential boss) a chance to perform for you, and sell you on the company and position.
You’ve proven your ability to intelligently answer your interviewer’s questions, and now you have the opportunity to prove you’re someone who asks the right questions.
So, what are the right questions for an interviewee to ask?
The Basic Need-to-Knows
These interviewee questions are mostly for you, to get a better understanding of the actual responsibilities and requirements of the job, or of opportunities for advancement. But they’re also a way to communicate your interest in the role and working style. Here are some examples you might want to open with:
What are the primary responsibilities of this position?
What would be the reporting structure for this role?
How is performance reviewed? Is there a formal process?
Flipping the Interview
If your potential boss is the one interviewing you, use this opportunity to do a chemistry check of your own and get some insights into this person’s history with the company. Of course, your potential boss will be editing their responses for the same reasons you do – to make a good impression. But asking about their background with (and before) the company will give you clues – both spoken and unspoken – about the company structure and culture. Plus, you’ll be able to establish an early rapport.
Here are a few good questions for interviewees to ask when trying to gauge a culture and personality fit:
When did you join the company? Were you always in this role?
What differences did you notice between this company and other companies where you worked previously?
What is your management style with your direct reports?
What’s something the company is doing now or is planning to do that excites you?
Questions About Expectations
These questions not only provide insight into what you can expect once you’re in the role, but also show your interviewer you’re already picturing yourself on the job, and thinking ahead about what you’ll be tackling, and how.
Can you tell me about any projects in the pipeline this role would have involvement in?
Are there any particular challenges I should anticipate in this role?
Do you see this role as cross-functional with other teams? How so?
What kind of growth and ownership opportunities do you see for this role?
Show You Did Your Homework
You should arrive at any interview having done your research on the company anyway, but this is your chance to show it. This demonstrates to your interviewer that you’re both proactive and thoughtful about the opportunity.
Try to seek out something specific – and relevant – to ask about the history or current endeavors of the organization. These questions will depend on what you find, but to give you a few hypothetical ideas:
How has the merger changed the organization?
Was the recent influencer campaign a success, and will you do more?
I’d love to know more about the thinking behind the company’s decision to rebrand…
To find useful intel, go digging. Check out the company’s social media updates, website, blog, any recent press, and even word of mouth to figure out some good job interview questions to ask. Be prepared to speak to why you’re interested in something, not just that you’re aware of it.
Things You Still Want to Cover
You know your strengths better than anyone, and you want to make sure all of them make it into your interview. If you haven’t found a way to touch upon all of your achievements through the interviewer’s questions, now’s the time to get them in.
For example: If you’re active in community service, and you’re interviewing for a company that supports a cause or causes, you might ask what opportunities are available for employees to get involved, and mention this is something that attracted you to the company. Or maybe you want to highlight some expertise that complements the role you’re applying for, even if it isn’t part of the job description. A couple more hypothetical examples are below:
I know this isn’t a tech team role, but I actually have some experience coding. Would this role have any interaction with the UX team?
I love that this is a value-driven company, but I’m also a believer in analytics. How does the company balance data-driven decision-making with its mission?
Follow-up on Previous Questions
This is where you can show off your listening skills. If you have an opportunity to circle back to one of your interviewer’s questions and ask something specific, or for more detail, do. For example:
You mentioned this role would be involved in the relaunch initiative. Is that already underway? How far along is it and how would I potentially join the effort?
When you did those recent focus groups, I’m curious what the methodology was. Did you bring in an outside agency or do you have an in-house market research team?
Questions to Avoid in an Interview
A good interview rule of thumb is to follow the adage “it’s not polite to talk about money.” This isn’t the time to ask about salary and benefits. Sometimes a recruiter or hiring manager will offer some benefit information unsolicited, to entice you. They might mention the company’s 401K matching program, or particularly good healthcare benefits. If it doesn’t come up, though, leave it alone… for now. The appropriate time to negotiate benefits and salary is when you’re offered the job. So don’t ask:
What is the salary/salary range for this position?
How much vacation time are employees entitled to?
Can you tell me about your paid leave policies?
What kind of retirement programs do you offer?
WCU Interview Coaching and Resources
Job hunting and interviewing are important business skills on their own, so West Coast University students and graduates have access to robust resources when it comes time to look for employment. Make sure you engage with our WCU Career Services team for help with application and portfolio prep, mock interviews, student interview tips, and career coaching.
If you’re a nursing student or graduate, make sure to check out our post with our top nurse job interview tips. We also have other career-focused posts that are helpful for nursing and non-nursing students alike.
We’re here to help you put your education into practice and assist you in finding that first great opportunity!
WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.