You did it! You managed to build an effective resume (and most likely a cover letter as well), submit it to the right people, and get a response. Now it’s time for the job interview. For many people, this can be the most stressful part of the entire job-seeking experience. Don’t worry. Take a deep breath, dress up in the appropriate interview attire, and put your best foot forward. You can do this!
Your interviewer will be asking you a series of questions, which you should be prepared to answer. However, you should also be prepared to ask questions of your own. An interviewee who asks good questions will stand out among applicants, so when you’re given the option to ask questions, seize the opportunity.
According to Adrienne Basil, a recruiting professional writing for MedExpress:
You definitely don’t want to leave an interview without asking any questions. If a candidate did this with me, I would feel as though they were uninterested in the opportunity and didn’t want to learn more about the company or role. It’s always best to come prepared with two to three questions to show you did your research and are excited to learn more.
So what questions should you ask an interviewer? Here are five strong options that will demonstrate your understanding of the industry and the interview process:
Who are your biggest competitors, and how do you differentiate yourself from what they’re doing?
Some of the best questions you can ask your interviewer will have value whether you get the position or not, and this is one such question. First of all, it gives you insight into the company’s self-image and strategy. Understanding how the company attempts to solve its biggest challenges will help you hone your expectations of what day-to-day life might be within the company culture.
Second, if you end up not getting the position, the answer to this question can guide you to other potential opportunities in the field. If you’re qualified to work for one company, it’s very likely you’re qualified to work for their competitors. Of course, you don’t want your interviewer to know you’re thinking about their competitors as potential opportunities, so be careful about how you word this.
Which part of my resume caught your eye?
Like the previous question, this one has two major benefits. First, it will help you orient yourself toward the responsibilities of the position if you end up getting it. Second, if you don’t end up getting the job, it will help you understand what the strong points of your resume are. When you’re constructing your resume for your next opportunity, it’s valuable to know what worked so you can build an even stronger resume the next time around.
Whether you ultimately get an offer or not, the answer to this question can be incredibly insightful. Don’t let it go to waste.
What opportunities are there for growth and advancement inside the company?
If you’ve ever gotten advice on which questions you should ask an interviewer, then you’re probably already be familiar with this one. It’s a true classic, and for good reason. Asking this question demonstrates that you have ambition, that you care about expanding your responsibilities within the company. It suggests that you have a strong work ethic, and it also implies that you’re the type who moves upward quickly when you’re given the opportunity. These are qualities that job recruiters dream about, so you absolutely want to show that you’re the type of candidate who possesses them.
What is your favorite thing about working for this company?
It’s an inescapable fact of human psychology that unconscious biases will impact every interaction you have with another person. While interviewers are encouraged to check their biases at the door, this is often easier said than done. This might sound like a bleak perspective on the human condition, but it’s actually not. If you understand this aspect of psychology, you can use these unconscious biases to your advantage.
Most human beings love to talk about themselves. According to an article by Psychology Today, “Simply put, self-disclosure is gratifying. It gives us a neurological buzz.” By putting interviewers into a position that allows them to talk about themselves, you’re allowing them to get an endorphin boost which will likely cause them to think more positively of their interaction with you. This “good feeling” will often tip the scales in your favor, which can be especially effective for highly competitive positions.
Aside from the psychological aspects of this question, however, you also want to show interest in not only the company, but the company culture, values, and perspectives. The answer to this question can give you some valuable insight into these things while demonstrating to your interviewer that you care enough to ask.
Why is this position open?
Admittedly, this question can feel like a gamble. However, if you feel like your interview went well, this is a great final question that puts the interviewer into a defensive position. Sometimes your interview feels like an interrogation, where you’re forced to defend yourself against an onslaught of difficult questions. By asking why the position is open, you’re turning the tables on the interviewer. This displays confidence, and it’s especially effective if you’re interviewing for a leadership position.
Additionally, this question helps you feel out whether you’re about to enter a toxic work environment. If this is a role that people are constantly being fired from, or people are leaving due to dissatisfaction, the answer to this question can save you from accepting a position where you might be unhappy.
Of course, we advise against asking this question if your interview felt awkward, or you’ve presented the meekest version of yourself. In these instances, the question can come off as stilted or confrontational. It’s important to know your audience and to strike when the iron is hot.
By understanding the benefits of the five questions we’ve explored here, you should feel far more confident when you get to the inevitable part of the interview where you’re allowed to ask questions of your own. We hope you knock your next interview out of the park. Good luck!