15 Job Interview Questions You Should Be Asking, and Why
Job interview questions are typically something you think of as coming from the interviewer. But if you’ve done any research into what successful job interviews look like, you know the best thing you can do to help your cause from the applicant’s standpoint is to have some questions ready to go when he or she asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”
You don’t say, “Well, not really,” unless you plan on your job search going on for a very long time. But what if I really don’t have any questions at the ready, you ask? Answer: Get busy and find some because that’s a sure sign you haven’t done your homework.
To help you get there, we’ve compiled a list of our 15 favorite job interview questions to ask of the employer along with an explanation for why you should ask it. Let’s begin!
1. What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the job?
Why Ask It: Getting down to the day-to-day responsibilities shows that you are thinking of the job as more than just a pie-in-the-sky ideal. You’re thinking in terms of action and what you can actually do to make a difference.
This doesn’t send the signal that you failed to do research. It shows that you want to be ready to go from day one. And your interviewer will understand that when you get down to those granular aspects of work within the company, there are some things you’re not going to know, even if you’re well-qualified for the position. So ask away!
2. What are your expectations for the first 30, 60, and 90 days?
Why Ask It: In any job, there are short, medium, and long-term expectations. No one expects perfection from day one. That works to your advantage. But you do need to send a signal to your job interviewer that you’re ready to make a difference from the beginning.
Asking about the progression of goals and accomplishments that are expected from you will show you’re a thoughtful candidate who wants to make a difference. It also will give you a solid framework if you get the job, and it makes it easier for the potential future employer to picture you in the position.
3. What would you expect of the ideal candidate for this role in one year?
Why Ask It: A lot can change in a year. Emerging technologies can automate some, if not all, of your position. If so, that’s something you’re going to need to know about. But don’t go into this question thinking of the negatives. Think instead of value.
What tangible value will you have added to the company by the one-year point, at least in the interviewer’s mind? This will give you some insight into the long view. And as with No. 3, it will solidify the framework in which you have to work. Use the answer to your advantage.
4. Who would you consider your top or closest competitor?
Why Ask It: You should know certain things about the industry you’re interviewing for before the interview. But it’s okay if you don’t have the answer to this question on deck. That’s because most companies are small businesses. And small businesses don’t compete directly with “the big boys.”
They typically have another similarly-sized company or two that they go head-to-head with, and it’s entirely possible you won’t know that going in. Even if you do, ask anyway. This question gives the possible employer a chance to talk about themselves and how they’re different from the competition. It also shows you are taking a genuine interest in what the company does and how the industry operates.
5. What is the most common career path for someone in this role who wants to grow inside of the company?
Why Ask It: This question shows you’re not planning on staying sedentary. Companies are about changes and growth, and they don’t want static people who are averse to or afraid of change.
When you inquire about a career path, you show that you are looking to add value immediately and become more valuable over time as your knowledge and experience evolve. Any future manager would be impressed by this and more apt to see what you can do.
6. What are the next steps forward?
Why Ask It: Asking this question at the end of the interview will give a sense that you’re ready to take the next step when they are. It’s a nice, proactive way of putting the ball in their court while displaying a genuine eagerness for the position.
It also forces them to give you a timeline that you can follow along with so you’re not left wondering where you stand six months down the road.
7. What are some examples of current projects that I’ll be working on?
Why Ask It: Another question designed to show that you’re thinking about more than just a paycheck. You want to “get your hands dirty,” so to speak.
Take it as an especially positive sign if the employer gets excited about telling you these projects because it means you’re leaving an indelibly good impression on him — one he will remember when it comes time to winnow the candidates.
8. What skills are you currently missing for this role?
Why Ask It: You don’t necessarily have to have the skills he or she mentions in place. Just show interest in what they are, and it will do a couple of things that give you an advantage.
Firstly, it will give you a more precise picture of what the role entails, what the expectations are, and whether you’re prepared to handle it. Remember: job interviews aren’t just to land you a job; they’re also to keep you away from the types of jobs that will ultimately be go-nowhere time-wasters.
Secondly, if you don’t have the skills or could use some refinement, the answer to this question will demonstrate the exact educational journey you need to take to excel in the position. If the employer offers educational incentives, then landing the job will give you a chance to jump right into the role without having to spend a lot (or any) of your own money.
9. How do you foresee the role changing in the future?
Why Ask It: This is a question that shows change doesn’t have to be explained to you. It demonstrates a willingness to work within a system where the rules might evolve over time. If an employer believes these are things you bring to the table, they’ll likely view you as a quicker study.
Naturally, being a quicker study makes you a more attractive candidate for any position. It also shows you’re less likely to fold under pressure.
10. What types of continuing education do you make available for someone in this position?
Why Ask It: A double-win if you ask this because it shows you’re ready to learn whatever you have to learn in order to be a more important asset to the company; also, you get a clear indication of what is expected from you and where you need to be focusing your efforts once you’re in the position.
Even if you don’t get the job, though, it can be useful information to add to your job skills toolbox so the next job becomes a more realistic possibility.
11. What metrics will you use to measure my performance?
Why Ask It: Anything that shows you think granularly will resonate with the person interviewing you. Assessment is usually a strength of the interviewer, too; so, if you show you’re like-minded, they’ll see something of themselves in you. And most people — especially people in positions of power — would hire themselves in a heartbeat.
12. How has your role changed since joining the company?
Why Ask It: No one stays doing the same thing they were doing as a new-hire for long. No company would even want that. We live in a dynamic, fast-paced, ever-changing world. Employees who view change trepidly are the kinds that hold a company back.
Management knows this, and they don’t want those types of people anywhere near a position of importance. What they do want is someone they can coach and bring along. Someone who will fearlessly, and without complaint, tackle new challenges. Someone who takes ownership of a situation, good or bad. Someone who doesn’t make excuses.
This question indicates you’ll be that type of person because you’re already expecting the change that is sure to come.
13. What are the main objectives of the company, and how specifically would my team support them?
Why Ask It: Employees who see themselves as an integral part of a greater whole are considered assets to a company, no matter how large or small (and no matter how large or small their role in it). The underlying messages you send when asking this question is that you’re cross-trainable and you see the big picture.
14. What books have you read that were the most beneficial to your current position?
Why Ask It: Readers are thinkers, and thinkers are readers. Managers want people in key roles who are analytical to some degree. Yes, they need to take action; but they also need to be the type of people honest enough to go back and assess the strengths and the weaknesses of whatever action was taken.
Asking what books someone read to prepare them for their position gives you an answer that sheds light on how their mind works in a way that no canned answer ever could. The question also gives the interviewer a chance to talk about something that interests and excites them. They’ll remember those moments when it’s time to select finalist candidates.
15. Who will my team members/closest colleagues be? Can you tell me a little about each of them?
Why Ask It: Unless the job is specifically designed for a loner, this question is a sure-fire hit. That’s because it shows you’re eager and willing to be part of a team. No, not just be a part for employment sake. You want to forge bonds and strong working dynamics with your department from the very beginning. That’s the kind of outgoing behavior that hiring managers like to see.
What Job Interview Questions Have You Asked?
So, those are the job interview questions we feel are important along with the reasons why. Now it’s your turn. Which questions have you asked that really seemed to resonate? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]