This is one of the most common questions that my clients ask me about interviews. What do I ask at the end of an interview? How can I use this time to my advantage? What are the right questions to ask? What are the wrong ones?
First things first: you should always ask questions at the end of the interview. They demonstrate curiosity, an eagerness to learn, and a genuine interest in the position. If you shrug and say ‘I don’t have any questions’ while getting your things together and preparing to leave, the interviewer will be left wondering whether or not you’re truly committed to the position.
Here’s what you don’t ask:
- What is the salary?
- How many hours will I work per week?
- What will my vacation time be?
- What are some perks associated with having this job?
In other words, stay away from questions that may hint that you only want the job for the money or the benefits.
Here’s my top advice for what to ask at the end of an interview:
1. Ask questions about your interviewer.
Remember: people like talking about themselves. They like giving advice, anecdotes, and feeling that you’re interested in them. In an interview, asking questions about your interviewer can really differentiate you.
However, make sure to stay away from personal questions. Instead, ask about their experiences in their industry or the organization that you want to join. For example:
- What do you like most about this organization?
- What were some factors in your decision to join this company?
- What are some of the highlights of your position?
Notice that all of these questions start with ‘what’. This is key. Starting your question with ‘what’ or ‘how’ is less forceful than ‘why’. Asking ‘why’ questions can cause you to come across as aggressive and as if you’re questioning your interviewer’s motives.
2. Ask questions about the role itself.
This is a great way to demonstrate your curiosity and eagerness. It will also give you an opportunity to show that you did your research. For example, one option is to mention an industry or market trend that is impacting the organization and present a solution. This is the best way to get you noticed.
When I was recruiting for a position at a top company, I was days away from giving an offer to the company’s #1 candidate. Then, the #3 candidate called the Vice President that she interviewed with, identified a problem that the organization would face as a result of industry trends, demonstrated that she had done her research by sharing what competitors were doing, and proposed a solution of her own. She landed the position. This just goes to show how important it is to do your research and really commit to going the whole nine yards.
Here’s some other questions that you can ask about the role:
- How does this position impact the organization overall?
- What are some of the challenges that the successful candidate will face in this role?
- What do you want to see accomplished in your team/department/company in the next 3-6 months? How can this position support your goals?
- What are some key deliverables?
- What are some challenges that the organization faces moving forward?
When you’re asking questions about the role or organization, keep in mind who you’re asking. If you’re being interviewed by management-level employees and up, your best bet is to ask high-level strategic questions about the industry or organization. Questions about day-to-day responsibilities can be best answered by peer-level interviewers.
The best advice that I can give you when you’re planning the questions you’re going to ask is to take stock of what’s most important to you. Is it the opportunities for advancement? The culture? The job itself? Map out your goals so that you can have a set of questions ready that will impress your interviewer while also providing you with the information you’ll need to make an informed decision.