New Year, new job. Questions you should ask an interviewer
When you’re in an interview, you might think that it’s the interviewer who should be asking all the questions, while you just give the answers that will hopefully land you the job. But you should also take the initiative and ask questions of your own. Asking questions isn’t just about soliciting useful information about salary packages and career prospects; it also provides an opportunity to show your thinking process and make yourself stand out. In addition, you should interview your interviewer; they’re representing the company you hope to work for.
Prepare your questions in advance, so that you can cover all the angles. T’s useful to have more questions than you actually ask, so that you have ‘spares’ if you need them. Some of your questions may be covered anyway, so if you don’t have some more prepared you could be left floundering. Having questions ready also shows that you’ve considered the important issues and are interested in being thoroughly informed about the company and the post you’re in line for.
These are some of the questions you should ask:
What is the company like?
The ethos and culture of the company is very important. If you’re going to thrive and be happy, it’s vital to be working somewhere that you will be on the same wavelength. Also try to find out more about the team you’ll be working with, and get to meet them if possible.
What are the prospects for career development?
Most companies will be keen to employ people who have ambitions and want to progress, rather than remain static. It is also important for you to be sure that the company offers the opportunities that you are looking for, and encourages its staff to gain experience, qualifications and progress in their career.
How will progress and performance be assessed?
If you thrive on a challenge and working in a pressured environment, then a company that sets high targets and encourages competition will be the one for you. If you prefer a less competitive structure, look for one that judges success in other ways.
What would your ideal candidate possess?
Most candidates expect to be asked questions and to show how they fit the company. By turning it around and asking what the company wants, you have an opportunity to demonstrate how you fit their criteria. You need to sell yourself, so don’t waste the chance to show what you are capable of.
What are the company’s plans?
If you’re ambitious, you’ll want to work for a company that itself has plans to expand and move into new markets, so offers scope for development and promotion. Also search online and see what you can find out about the company’s plans for the future; this will allow you to demonstrate that you have done your research and are interested in what they aim to do.
What does the company plan to do to deal with a problem issue?
As suggested here, one crucial question that can really make you stand out is to ask how the company intends to handle a situation that it is facing, such as the current economic climate. This shows that you have considered the wider picture and how the company is situated within the context of the industry and business as a whole.
Who will I be working with?
Since you’re going to be working alongside other people, you should find out something about them. This shows that you are a team player and are interested in getting along with your colleagues. It also gives you a chance to get a feel for the type of people the company likes to employ; for instance, do they have a good mix of ages or is it a young team where you’d feel awkward if you’re older?
Can you tell me about the previous/present holder of the post?
Finding out why the previous holder of the post you’re applying for is leaving will give you an idea of whether you want to work there yourself. If they found the workload excessive, you too may end up overworked. If they were fired, this may indicate two completely different outcomes: that the company is unsupportive, or that they expect the best and won’t tolerate people who don’t perform well. Further questions should help clarify whether or not you should be concerned.
What happens next?
Finish by asking them how the interview process will be followed up. This will give you some idea of when you might hear from them, how much competition you have, and if you should contact them. You’ll also be showing that you are seriously considering the company as potential employers, and that you have a favourable impression of them.