What Questions to Ask an Interviewer to Really Stand Out?
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When an employer asks if you have any questions, it can be a good idea to have a few prepared. But what kinds of questions will provide the best benefits, and what answers should you look out for?
If you’re wondering what questions to ask an interviewer and why, you’re not alone. Below, we’ve compiled a few questions that could be especially useful. And remember, this part of the interview is your chance to get the information you need to feel confident when either accepting their offer or deciding to look elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to make the most of it—and impress your interviewer at the same time!
What Questions to Ask an Interviewer if You Want to Show Off Your Research?
If you took the time to research the company, browse their website, scope out their competitors, and uncover other useful information, you want to subtly show off that hard work if you haven’t done so already.
While these types of questions will vary depending on the company, a good rule to follow is [information from the research you did, ideally with a compliment included] + [question that goes into further detail on your research and perhaps even links it to the role]. Here is an example of what that could look like in action:
Question: “I recently read an article about your latest funding round. Congratulations! What are your company’s plans for the future given this new development?”
What makes this a good question to ask at a job interview? Asking about the company’s plans can give you a sense of how well it is doing. It’ll also show the interviewer that you’re interested in being a part of that growth. By mentioning your research, you’re also demonstrating that you took the time to look them up.
Questions to Ask in an Interview to Help You Succeed on the Job
While it might feel a little premature to start talking about your day to day responsibilities or your first 90 days, it can still be good to do so. For one, it shows the interviewer that you’re thinking ahead and looking at how to excel in the position. For another, it can also help uncover any challenges you might encounter and whether or not this employer would help you overcome them. Here are some job interview questions to ask that do just that:
Question: “What is your onboarding process like?”
What makes this a good question to ask at a job interview? The onboarding process is more important than many people realize. According to multiple studies, a bad onboarding process can make employees reconsider whether they want to stay at their new job (with as much as 17% leaving within three months if they’re not impressed). If you don’t enjoy transitions and are hoping to stay at your new job for a long time, this could be an important aspect to consider.
Red flag: A company that doesn’t have a good onboarding process might not be very welcoming or supportive of new hires. If you do take the position, be aware that you might feel nervous and confused while getting adjusted.
Question: “What are the biggest challenges/ surprises new hires experience in this role?”
What makes this a good question to ask at a job interview? This type of question can help you mentally prepare for your first day and help you set healthy expectations for yourself. It can also help you avoid shift shock—the jolting realization that your new job is not at all what you expected.
Red flag: If you’re speaking to your future manager and they let slip something like “I have very high standards and few people are able to meet them” or “The workload is very intense,” then there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled onto a toxic work environment (especially if they don’t indicate how they support new hires in overcoming these challenges). If you do proceed with the position, watch out for signs of burnout and pay attention to your stress levels.
Questions to Ask at an Interview to Learn About the Company’s Culture
A toxic work environment can have a significant impact on your well-being. One study by the University of Singapore, for example, found that people who experienced rudeness at work tended to withdraw more or exhibit more angry behaviours at home.
Wondering what questions to ask an interviewer that could help you understand the kind of work environment you would be joining? A few good places to start include asking about the company culture directly, asking about professional development opportunities, and (if your future boss is the one conducting the interview) you might even want to ask them about their management style. Here are a couple of other good questions to ask in an interview to get a true sense of the company’s culture:
Question: What do you like best about working here?
What makes this a good question to ask at a job interview? Toxic work environments can be hard to spot from the outside. Direct questions might not always be useful either, since your interviewer might be in denial or even part of the problem. When asking this question, pay particular attention to how the interviewer answers it. Does their tone of voice sound defensive? Stressed? Excited? Are they gushing about everything they love, or are they cooly giving you a rehearsed spiel about pleasing clients and meeting sales targets?
Red flag: If someone struggles to answer this question, there’s a good chance they aren’t happy and that you won’t be either if you accept the job offer.
Question: What does work-life balance look like at your company?
What makes this a good question to ask at a job interview? Work-life balance is important. It affects everything from your mental health to your physical health, and it is definitely not something to be taken lightly.
Red flag: If the interviewer struggles to answer this question, gets defensive, or takes it as an indication that you don’t plan on working hard, then they might not treat their employees with respect and understanding. If you do take the job, watch out for signs of burnout and be cautious when mentioning your life outside of work.
Avoid Asking These Questions
While you’re looking for red flags that the company might be toxic, it’s important to remember that the person interviewing you is also looking for red flags about you. A lot of rude employees can sound very charming during a job interview, and so interviewers could see a small mistake as a sign of a deeper issue. As a result, you want to avoid asking questions that could be negatively perceived.
Question to avoid: What’s my salary going to be?
Reason to avoid it: Salary discussions are still a delicate matter. Some companies are now disclosing salary ranges on their job descriptions, and some do ask questions about salary expectations early in the interview process. However, the specific number will often only be disclosed at the very end when you’re given the job offer. Asking this question now (and asking it in a manner that assumes you’ll get the job) could sound pushy and arrogant. Also avoid discussions about time off until you get the job offer as well.
Question to avoid: So what does your company sell, exactly?
Reason to avoid it: You might be tempted to ask an open-ended question about the company, thinking that it’ll show you’re interested in learning more about it. However, if you ask about something you could easily have found with a quick Google search, glance at the job description, or by browsing the company’s website, you’ll look like you didn’t do your research.
Question to avoid: Can you tell me about [sensitive information like a confidential project]?
Reason to avoid it: While it can be tempting to ask about the specific details of a project you might eventually work on, you need to remember that this information can’t be shared with non-employees. Your interviewer won’t be able to share details that haven’t yet been released to the public, and may feel uncomfortable if you ask them about it. In some cases, they might even start to worry that you’re trying to mine them for information you plan to leak to the press or a competitor!
What Should You Do if You Don’t Have Any Questions to Ask in Your Interview?
If you’ve reached the end of the interview and everything on your list of questions has already been answered, you don’t need to worry. This is the part of the interview that is not likely to make or break your application. So how do you admit you don’t have any questions in a way that still conveys your interest? You could try saying something like this:
“I was going to ask you about your onboarding process and how my performance would be measured. However, you did such a great job of explaining it earlier that I don’t feel I need any additional clarification at this time. If I do think of any other questions, could I email them to you?”
As long as you take the time to thank your interviewer, convey your interest in the position, and maybe even go over a few important things you mentioned during the interview, you should be fine.
And what do you do when your interviewer emails you back with an offer?
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