3 Topics to Ask Questions About in a Job Interview

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Candidate asking his interviewers questions.

When every candidate steps into an interview, they expect to be answering the questions. That is the whole purpose of the interview after all! A job seeker can expect to be in the hot seat for most of the interview. However, there will come a time towards the end where the interviewer may open it up for questions. A good candidate will come prepared to not only answer questions, but to ask them as well. This shows genuine interest in the position, and better informs you about the opportunity. In today’s blog, we’ll break down 3 topics you can easily ask questions about, along with specific wording.

The Process

The first topic we suggest is the most relevant to the now- the interview process. Knowing what to expect next is incredibly helpful, especially if you’re juggling multiple interviews. By asking about a type of timeline, you can know when you should follow up if you don’t hear back. It’s also a great opportunity to address any other hang-ups they may have about your candidacy.

What are the next steps in the interview process?

Asking this will let you know when you can expect to hear back. You can also use a question like this to gauge their seriousness. We recommend you ask this question and the following last.

What’s your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?

Similar to the above question, this is a way to ask that is more specific and asks for a concrete timeline. Again, asking this is a good way to close out the interview. It provides closure but also reminds them about reaching out.

What can I clarify for you about my qualifications?

This question requires some boldness, but it could save you from not being considered. Sometimes interviewers and hiring managers will make some negative assumptions about your qualifications. There may be a reasonable explanation, but they would have to ask to find out. This gives them the opportunity to ask you for further clarification on any negatives that stand out. If you’re going to ask this one, just be prepared to explain yourself.

The Culture

For the entire interview you’ve likely been discussing the company, and their expectations as an employer. While it’s not impossible, it is unlikely that your conversation covered much about company culture. The end of the interview presents a great chance to find out more. Culture is also a big determining factor of if you will enjoy the work environment, so it’s helpful to know about! The questions below are a good way to get some more insight.

What is the culture like at the company?

This is a very straightforward way to ask about company culture. Hopefully the interviewer will be honest with you and describe what it’s like to work there. However, if you’re worried they may be sugarcoating it, we recommend using the next question.

What do you like best about working for this company?

By asking about their personal opinion, you put them on the spot. If they love working at the company, they should have no problem describing the great culture they have. If they hesitate to answer, you may want to do some further research. Either question will help get a better understanding of the culture.

What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?

You may think it odd to file this question under ‘culture’, but knowing the ideal type of employee will inform you of the environment. If you’ve already exhausted talking about qualifications, consider changing this question to ask about soft skills specifically. Soft skills are usually not mentioned, but are equally important.

The Future

This is the topic that can win you a lot of points. By asking about the future, you show serious interest in the long term stakes if you were to be hired. Asking about the company’s future and your own career path there also implies that you’re not going to jump ship after only a few months.

Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job? 

The job description may describe broad goals and tasks of the role, but most tend to skim over the day to day. For example, a sales job may say ‘generate leads’ and ‘bring in new business’, but what that could actually mean is sending 350+ emails a day. Asking about the day to day work gives you a better idea of what you can actually expect.

What is the typical career path for someone in this role?

This is a question that should result in an answer about longevity and growth. If you are looking to move up the chain in this position, their response should help you find out more. Much like the ‘what do you enjoy’ question, if the hiring manager hesitates to answer, it may be cause for concern. The other possibility is that they don’t know- this is a question better suited to ask a manager in your potential department.

What are the biggest opportunities facing the company/department right now?

These last two questions are also more appropriate if you are speaking to a manager or higher up at the company. Asking about opportunities may give you insight into the types of projects you will be tackling when you start. It’s definitely nice to know ahead of time, and you never know the state of the company. It’s possible a big merger is happening in 2 months that will greatly change the workplace. You won’t know if you don’t ask!

Where do you see the company in three years, and how would the person in this role contribute to this vision?

When asking this question, you can change the time frame as you see fit to suit the general time you plan on staying. By asking about how your role will change and meet overall company goals,  you give the hiring manager a better idea of your commitment. They in turn may explain what they have in mind for you down the road.

That’s it for topics and questions! There are certainly many more things you could discuss- these are just the basics. Just keep in mind, if you’re going to ask some of these questions, don’t take up too much time. At the end of the day, the interview is their show, so you don’t want to dominate the conversation too much. We hope these questions serve you well in your next interview!

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