A few months ago, Patrick wrote a blog about what questions should be asked in interviews – by the interviewers… And Leslie has written a post about how to prepare for interviews… but what do you do when the interviewer asks “do you have any questions for us?”  Here are a few things you can do to be even better prepared.

Always have at least five open-ended questions.  Yes or no questions don’t encourage discussion or elaboration.  Write them down ahead of time.  If one gets answered during the interview, make sure you mention it – either then, or when they ask you for questions… “well, I was going to ask about when benefits kicked in, but you’ve already mentioned that they start the first of the month after hire.”  This shows you a) came prepared and b) were paying attention.

In addition to having a list of questions you should ask, there are also questions you should always be able to answer…

  • In what environment do you feel most comfortable?
  • Why do you want this job?
    • Hint… Money is NEVER a good answer!
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
    • Always have at least one weakness, don’t say you can’t think of one.
  • Did you look at our website?
    • The answer should always be yes
  • What can you tell us about {this company}?
    • Try to know three things about the client

Now, let’s break down the questions by who you should be asking what.  Obviously you don’t want to ask your potential new supervisor about the background check process, that would be a question for HR.   Typically, you will meet with more than one person, but if not, take the relevant questions for each person with whom you speak.  Also, ensure you’ve checked the website for answers to your questions first, that will ensure you’re even more prepared and have done your homework!

Human Resources: any benefits, onboarding, or compensation questions should only be asked here.

  • What are the benefits like? When do they start?
  • What is the next step?
  • When do you expect the new hire will start?

Supervisor: ask questions about performance, and structure

  • What can you tell me about this job that isn’t in the description?
  • How has this job changed since it was created?
  • What is the future of this project?
  • Is this considered a key project for the firm?
  • What do you feel the career path is for this role?
  • Of the requirements, which are the most critical?
  • Why is this position open? Is it a new position or a replacement for someone?
  • How large is the team?
  • What are the most important skills of the person who does this job?
  • What will I be doing in the first…?
    • Day
    • Week
    • Month
    • Three months
    • Six Months
  • How do you measure progress?
  • Do you appreciate initiative in your team members?
  • What is the reporting structure? How transparent is it?

Potential Coworkers: These are the people who can really tell you what the job is about.

  • How long have you worked here?
  • If you could change one thing about your current job (positive or negative) what would it be?
  • What has changed (perception, reality, etc.) since you took this job?
  • What is the company really like?
  • What keeps people here? Or what makes people leave?
  • What is the team dynamic?

Obviously you won’t want to ask all of these questions, and sometimes some may already have been answered by the recruiter or in the interview.  Ensure you develop a variety of questions and take note of the answers.  The goal of an interview is to interview each other to ensure a mutual fit.  The worst thing you can do is go into a new job unprepared for the culture and environment.

What are some of the best interview questions that you’ve used before?

Image courtesy of Pansa at 

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