It can be an awkward moment. You reach the end of an interview, and the interviewer asks you what questions you want to ask. It’s your last chance to impress with the witty, intelligent and insightful questions you so carefully prepared before the interview. But your mind goes blank, you forget all the questions you wanted to ask, or they may have already been answered.
So here are my top tips for questions to ask and potential minefields to avoid
- What do the people who have succeeded in this role/company have in common?
- Why do you like working for this company?
- Why is the position vacant? (essential, if it hasn’t already been covered)
- What is the good, the bad and the ugly of working in this role?
- What are the 1 or 2 key objectives for the company and how will this role support them?
- What are the turnover/retention rates like for the department? (Can be a tricky question to ask, but if 90% of employees are leaving in the first 12 months, you want to know)
- What makes people stay with the company? What makes people leave?
- What do you think is the most frustrating part of this role?
- What are the most important 3 things you are looking for in this position? (This can be a great question to use in a follow up email, where you can reiterate your strengths against their top 3 criteria)
- Is there any other information you need from me?
Questions NOT to ask:
- What is the salary?
- When do I start?
- Have I got the job?
Don’t make the mistake of asking for feedback or a decision at an interview. It is a strategy that is unlikely to work, and if anything can finish the interview on a very awkward note, which is not how you want to be remembered. It is common in American job hunting advice books/websites to recommend “closing the sale” but it doesn’t work in Australian culture. You risk coming across as aggressive, rude, and confrontational.
“Do not underestimate human nature to want to work along a likeable person” (LinkedIn, quote from a Recruiter, May 2011)
Very few interviewers will give you honest feedback at an interview, not because they are unwilling too, but because it is inappropriate. They need time to debrief, compare to other candidates, and weigh up strengths and weaknesses before giving you constructive and balanced feedback.
What questions have worked for you?