Regardless of what company or position you’re interviewing for, you’ll always be asked, “What questions do you have for us?” Having a good response can really help you land the job.
One of the most common mistakes the college students make during interviews is that they forget to ask questions. The goal of an interview isn’t for you to simply sit there and answer questions so that they can get to know you. Interviews are a two-way street and you should spend as much time trying to get to know the company. In other words, while the employer is trying to learn if you are a good fit for the company, you should learn if the company is a good fit for you.
Additionally, the interviewer will expect you to ask questions. If you don’t ask at least two questions at the end of the interview then they will appear disinterested, or worse, less intelligent and engaged than other candidates. Questions change the dynamic of an interview; they can give you the upper hand, make you stand out and reveal some negative aspect about the job.
Avoid asking yes or no questions, they won’t really help you learn much about the position or company. It’s best to ask questions that require the interviewer to think and explain their response. You want to learn as much about the position as possible to help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. At the same, avoid asking very broad questions, you shouldn’t try to stump the interviewer or confuse them. Doing so could give the interviewer a bad impression of who you are.
It’s best to find a good balance between the two and have a few question prepared ahead of time. It’s recommended that you have five questions prepared in case some of them get answered before the end of the interview. The following questions will help give you an idea of what interview questions work best.
Ask them for a summary of their time with the company.
Ask them about their favorite aspects, challenges and overall experience of their time at the company. This question will not only show that you’re interested, but also that you have a decision to make. Listen to what they have to say because usually, they will list the best things about the job. You then need to decide if these are the things that matter most to you about your future place of work. If the answer is something like “I like the people I work with”, then you should notice that they did not say anything about the job itself. Which means the job could be undesirable.
- How long have you worked for the company and how has your experience been?
- What do you like best about working for this company?
- Besides the paycheck, what keeps you coming into work every day?
Ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job.
Ask them to give you a snapshot of what a typical day would look like if you were to accept the position. Have them walk you through a typical day of someone in that role. Asking this type of question will help you decided if the job is a good fit for you. Also, it will help you gain more insight into what specific skills and strengths needed so you can address any topics that haven’t already been covered. For example, if they were to mention that part of the job will require you to work with Excel then you could mention how you have had experience making spreadsheets. Little things like that can help you stand out from other candidates.
- Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
- What are the biggest challenges people face when they start out in this position?
- What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days, year?
Ask what it takes to excel in the position.
Ask them what they think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in the position to which are applying. This will help you learn a lot about company culture and the nature of the job. This will important because you might learn that the company expects certain things from its employees which you are not comfortable. For example, the company might expect you to stay late and work most weekends the last month of each quarter.
- What does success look like for this position?
- If I were to get hired, what would you recommend I do until the start date to help me prepare for the role?
- What common characteristics do you see in people who do excel in this position?
Ask who they think is the ideal candidate for the position.
Ask them what they are the determining factors they look for in the candidates. Asking such a question can help you know what aspect of your education or experience you should highlight to your interviewer. Chances are you are just one of a dozen applicants and it’s possible that the interviewer will overlook certain things which might have put you ahead of the other applicants.
- Do you have any reservations about me or my background for this position?
- How do I compare with the other candidates you’ve interviewed for this role?
Ask about the company and its mission.
This does not mean you should ask really basic question like “what does your company do?” or anything that you could have looked up ahead of the interview. You don’t want the interviewer to think that you didn’t bother to research the company before applying. Instead, ask questions which require an “insiders” knowledge; such questions make it look like you’re really interested in the company.
- How would you describe the work culture at [Company Name Here]?
- What is the biggest achievement this department has made?
- What is the biggest challenge facing this department right now?
- What is the company’s vision for the future?
- What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
Ask about the next step in the hiring process.
After the interview, you often feel like you’ve fallen into a limbo state and are unsure what to do next. Asking your interviewer what is the next step can help you better understand what’s next on the agenda. You’ll know if there are any additional steps you need to take or if can just relax and wait to hear back. Not all companies are very organized so this can help both you and the interviewer.
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- What’s your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
- Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?
- Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?
Ask for a tour of the place you will be working.
You’ll rarely get a “no” to this question and most interviewers would be happy to show you around. You’ll get a chance to see where you’ll be working and the office environment you’ll be working in. You’re going to be spending a lot of time at your job after graduation and it’s important to be comfortable in the place you work. Also, you’ll show that interviewer that you’re really interested in working at the company.