January 12th, 2009
Key Questions to Ask the Interviewer

You’ve sailed through the interview and you breathe a huge sigh of relief. And then comes the killer bite, “Do you have any questions?” This could make all the difference between being a job seeker and a job getter.

Ask, ask, ask
If you don’t ask questions in the interview, many recruiters will wonder if you are truly interested in the job. They also need to feel satisfied that the candidate has enough information on which to make a decision in case an offer is made.

Susan Trainer, a senior information systems recruiter, interviews hundreds of candidates to determine if they represent a good fit for her client companies. “It makes me crazy when I ask a candidate if they have any questions and they say either ‘No, you have answered them already’ or ‘How many days holiday does your client give?’ There are so many things you can screw up in a job interview and not asking thoughtful questions when you have the opportunity is probably the biggest one.”

“This is a real chance for a candidate to shine and set themselves apart from all the other job seekers. The questions you ask, and how you ask them, do as much to differentiate you from the competition as the questions asked by the interviewer,” Trainer insists.

Show off your knowledge
Asking questions is an excellent way to demonstrate your sophistication and qualifications. The questions you choose indicate your depth of knowledge of your field as well as your general level of intelligence. Asking questions also enables you to establish an easy flow of conversation and build rapport.

The more senior the position you are seeking, the more important it is to ask sophisticated and tough questions. Recruitment managers will judge you as much on the inquiries you make as on the responses you provide. If you don’t ask sufficiently detailed questions, it will demonstrate lack of initiative and leadership qualities that a senior level position demands.

Key questions to ask
Here are some examples of good questions you could ask:

  • What are the most important skills for the job?
  • What do you think I can bring you to add value?
  • What would I have to accomplish in this job to be considered first-rate?
  • When key people leave the company, why do they leave and where do they usually go?
  • What are the company’s long- and short-term goals?
  • What do you think gives this company an edge over its competitors?
  • What is the work environment like?
  • Why do you [the interviewer] enjoy working for this company?
  • Who in the company would review my performance? When?
  • What are the opportunities for training and professional development?
  • If I’m as successful in this position as I should be, what might I be doing after a year? After two years?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?
  • So next time the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”, there’s no excuse to say “no.” Remember, this is a prospective employer and you want to come across as intelligent, positive and interested as you possibly can.

    Kate Lorenz, Careerbuilder.co.uk editor

    Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping you to explore your career at any stage.

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