Understandably, when approaching an interview, the candidate focuses on how best to present themselves in terms of their skills, experiences, behaviours and competencies. A great way to showcase your strengths and potential is by answering the questions put to you by the interviewer or panel. However, candidates are also given a very important second opportunity to engage with the interviewer and this is when they are asked, “Do you have any questions for us?”
Asking the Interviewer Questions
Asking questions of the interviewer has become a distinct part of the interview process, and a polite “thank you, you have covered everything I need to know” is really not enough. By asking well-thought-out and interesting questions, you are firstly demonstrating that you understand the dynamics of an interview and, secondly, recognising that it is a work situation in its own right. Your ability to relate to those around you, whether colleagues or clients, will be reflected in how you contribute to the interview. This also shows that you are prepared to make the extra effort to inform yourself about the role and the organisation and to use that knowledge intelligently.
Questions at the first interview should, therefore, generally focus on the role and the organisation, rather than bringing in details about the terms and conditions.
When the floor is opened for you to ask questions, take it. Asking questions to your interviewers helps to show your genuine interest in the role, whilst helping them to understand more about what drives you. If you remember anything from this blog, let it be these three pointers:
- Prepare a list – You won’t have time to ask all your questions, but what if your prepared questions are answered earlier on? Make sure you have a few options.
- Personalise your questions – Ask for specifics about the particular aspects of the role you have applied for. Don’t be generic.
- Follow-on from your conversation – Ask for more information about what has previously been said, or that builds on an earlier discussion.
While asking questions helps you get a feel for the company you have applied to, don’t forget it also offers more insight into you. What you ask and the conversations that stem from this will also help to highlight your suitability for the role.
Approaching this Section of the Interview
Begin with the questions that you may have thought of during the course of the interview. For example, if you are applying for an office-based role and are asked to demonstrate how you handle difficult clients face-to-face, it is fair to ask how much direct client contact there is likely to be. So, always try to follow up on any apparent differences between the role you thought you were going for and where the interview is leading. It is important to get these questions in first as you don’t know how much time you have.
If you have no immediate questions, it is good to have already prepared 5 questions about the role. In reality, you will probably only have time for 1, or possibly 2; but, many will probably have been covered prior to you asking about them. Some examples could be:
- I have recently undertaken some online training in (Health & Safety, programming or cyber security) and I am very keen to continue to grow. What are the opportunities for Learning and Development in this role?
- Has the vacancy come about through someone moving on, or is the team expanding?
- What are the biggest challenges facing this role?
- Can you tell me more about the structure of the team? Who would I be reporting to directly and who are my direct reports and/or team members?
- Ask the interviewer about their own career path with the organisation: May I ask, how did you progress within your career here?
If you feel all these questions about the role have been covered, think of one aspect that you are most interested in and ask for more detail, for example, “You have said the team is expanding, are there likely to be further additions to the team in the near future?
9 Good Questions for the End of an Interview
Here are 9 questions to ask at the end of an interview.
1. What is your favourite aspect of working for this organisation?
By asking this question, you can create a connection with the interviewer and gain valuable insights into the positive and negative aspects of the workplace.
2. What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of working for this organisation?
This question is even more revealing than the previous one and can provide valuable information on the challenges of working in the organisation.
3. How would you describe the organisation’s culture and policies related to staff well-being?
By asking this question, you can gain an understanding of what it would be like to work in the organisation on a daily basis and the measures in place to ensure staff wellbeing.
4. Can you explain the type of supervision provided in this organisation?
This is an excellent question for social and community workers to ask as it can help determine the quality of supervision and support available to reflect on their practice and provide high-quality service to clients.
5. What have previous successful employees done to excel in this position?
Asking this question, especially in comparison to current employees, can demonstrate your interest in achieving positive outcomes for clients and your willingness to succeed in the role.
6. Could you describe what a typical day in this position looks like?
Asking about a typical day can showcase your enthusiasm for the role and provide you with a better understanding of the responsibilities and duties of the job.
7. What type of employee is likely to succeed in this organisation, and what qualities are important for success?
Asking this question can reveal if the organisation has a clear idea of the type of employee they want to hire and what qualities they value in their staff.
8. How does the organisation support professional growth and development among its staff?
This question demonstrates your interest in staying and growing within the organisation and provides insights into how the organisation invests in its staff.
9. How does the organisation handle conflicts among staff members?
Asking this question can provide valuable insights into the organisation’s culture and how they deal with conflicts, which is an essential aspect of any high-functioning workplace.
Additional Questions to Ask an Interviewer
You can also approach these questions by thinking about what you’d like to know more about the role, organisation and team.
Questions about the Role
What do you expect from me in this position?
By asking this question, you can gain clarity on what the employer is looking for in a candidate and what they expect you to achieve in the role.
What is the most critical objective I should achieve within the first 90 days of my employment?
Asking this question can provide you with a clear understanding of the priorities of the role and what the employer expects you to accomplish in the initial phase of your employment.
What is the process for performance evaluation in this organisation, and how frequently are formal reviews conducted?
With this question, you can gain an understanding of how your performance will be evaluated and the frequency of formal reviews.
What criteria or goals will be used to evaluate my performance?
Asking this question can provide you with insight into how the employer measures success and what you need to accomplish to succeed in the role.
What are the primary projects that I will work on immediately?
This question helps you get a better idea of the critical tasks and projects that you will be responsible for in the beginning stages of your employment.
When can I expect to start meeting with clients, have responsibility for my own accounts, interact with other departments, etc.?
By posing this question, you can help yourself understand the timeline for assuming various responsibilities in the role and prepare accordingly.
Questions about the Team
What skills or expertise is the team lacking that you hope to supplement with a new team member?
Asking this question can provide insight into the gaps in the team and what the employer is looking for in a new hire to complement the team.
What are the significant challenges that I may encounter in this role?
With this question, you can gain insight into the potential obstacles you may face in the role and how the employer expects you to address them.
Are there any anticipated changes to my primary responsibilities in the next six to twelve months?
This question can help you understand if the role may evolve or expand in the near future and prepare accordingly.
Can you provide information about the team I will be working with?
By asking this question, you can gain insight into the dynamics of the team and the people you will be working alongside.
Who will I collaborate with most closely, and which other departments or units will I interact with?
Asking this question can help you understand the scope of your role and the people and departments you will need to collaborate with to succeed.
Can you tell me about my direct reports, their strengths, and the most significant challenges the team is facing?
With this question, you can gain insight into the dynamics of the team you will be managing and the potential challenges that you may face in your leadership role.
Questions about the Organisation
I have read that the organisation has offices throughout the UK and has recently opened a new one in Newcastle. When conditions allow, do employees from the different offices meet up regularly?
By asking about the organisation’s office locations and employee interactions, the interviewee is trying to understand the company’s approach to collaboration and teamwork.
I see the organisation supports XYZ charity. How do employees get involved in supporting or nominating a charity?
Asking this question shows an interviewer that you have done some research on the organisation and are genuinely interested in its operations and culture. It also demonstrates your curiosity and eagerness to learn more about the company and its activities.
I see from your Social Media that you have recently launched a new product. Are you able to say if there is another one in the pipeline?
Questions about future product lines show that you are aware of their offerings and are interested in their future plans. This can demonstrate that you are keeping up with industry trends and are interested in the company’s growth and success.
Is there a time of year when there is a greater demand for your products or services, or is demand fairly even throughout the year?
Enquiring about the company’s sales patterns shows that you are seeking to understand how the organisation operates on a more detailed level. This can indicate that you are a critical thinker who wants to learn more about business operations and how to optimise them.
So apart from allowing you to access more important information about the role, questions to the interviewer also give you another chance to demonstrate analytical skills, curiosity and a willingness to contribute that bit extra.
Questions to Avoid
Whilst there are plenty of questions you can ask your interviewer(s), there are some questions which you are best avoiding. Asking the following can give a negative impression to an interviewer.
- Questions that can be answered by researching the company: Avoid asking basic questions about the company that can easily be found on their website or through a quick online search. This can indicate a lack of preparation or effort.
- Questions about salary or benefits: It’s important to avoid asking about salary or benefits until you have received a job offer, as these topics can be perceived as presumptuous or overly focused on personal gain.
- Questions that suggest you’re not committed: Avoid asking questions that imply you’re not fully committed to the job or the company. For example, asking about the possibility of remote work or vacation time during the interview process can indicate that you’re not fully invested in the role.
- Questions that are too personal: It’s important to keep the conversation professional and avoid asking overly personal questions. This can include questions about the interviewer’s age, marital status, or political affiliations.
It’s important to use your best judgement and ask questions that demonstrate your interest in the company and the role while avoiding any questions that could be perceived as unprofessional or inappropriate.
If you would like more help knowing how best to structure your interview answers, or how to best answer competency questions, visit our blog. Alternatively, for help with your job search, contact our recruitment specialists today.
What are the top 5 questions to ask an interviewer?
- What are the company’s goals for the next 5 years?
- Can you describe the company culture?
- How does the company measure success?
- What are the biggest challenges the company is currently facing?
- What qualities do successful employees at the company possess?
What is a good closing question for an interview?
A great question to ask at the end of an interview is about the next steps. Why not ask, what is the next step in your hiring process?
What are the top 5 questions to ask an interviewer at the end?
- Can you tell me about your experience working for this company?
- Is there anything else you need to know about my qualifications?
- How does the company support employee development?
- How does the company promote work-life balance?
- What qualities do you think would make someone successful in this role?