A job interview is very much a two-way process and the interviewer will be looking for candidates to engage, and show curiosity about the organisation and the role. The best way of doing this is for the candidate to ask the interviewer questions. Generally, there is a specific time for this at the end of the interview, but the candidate may be invited to ask questions during the different stages of the interview.
Approaching This Part of the Interview
Approaching this part of the interview involves focusing on two goals. Firstly, you can use this opportunity to assess the organisation and determine if the opportunity is the right fit for you. And, secondly, you want to continue demonstrating that you are the best candidate for the job.
It is always a good idea to have some questions prepared to help show your interest in not just the job role, but the wider company. However, make sure you drive home any key messages about your suitability for the role before moving on to your questions.
Each question you ask should be personalised to the role you are applying to or the organisation. Your questions should help the hiring manager to visualise you in the role. Therefore, asking questions about how they progressed or entered the business can help them see you do the same.
Additionally, it is worth remembering that interviews are conversations, often your planned questions should wait until the end but if the opportunity arises sooner, take it. Unplanned questions will demonstrate that you are listening and reacting to specific issues raised in the interview.
How many Questions should I ask in an Interview?
It is generally acceptable to ask two or three questions during an interview, but it’s wise to have a total of five questions prepared. This way, you’ll have backup questions in case some of them are answered beforehand.
Keep in mind that the interview is an opportunity for you to gain insights into the company’s work, culture and operations. Avoid focusing solely on questions about personal benefits and compensation.
Good Questions to Ask in an Interview
Questions from a candidate to an interviewer often fall into two broad categories: questions and the specific job role and those about the organisation as a whole. Read on to find out more.
Questions about the Role
Asking additional questions about the role can help demonstrate your commitment while providing you with more information from outside the job advertisement. These questions are important in helping you gain a truer picture of what your day-to-day life could look like.
- Is this a new role? This could give you some idea of why the position is vacant.
- Ask if the person currently in the role is moving on within the organisation or externally. This could give you some idea of likely promotion paths open to the role.
- What other departments would the person doing this role interact with most frequently? This would let the interviewer know that you are used to working with teams across an organisation.
- Is the person in this role expected to travel (when permitted), either in the UK or overseas? How you ask this question will demonstrate whether this is a positive or negative from your point of view.
- What opportunities for learning and development are there? This could include updating training and certification that might be necessary for the role.
Questions about the Organisation
While it is important to discover more about the specific role you are applying for, it is also crucial to know what organisation you are joining. Bear in mind these questions to ensure you get a true picture of the company’s culture and ethos. After all, you want to feel proud to work for an organisation that aligns with and represents values you hold dear.
During a First Interview
Below are appropriate questions for a first interview. They demonstrate your interest in the job and the organisation and allow you to move closer to showing you are right for this role.
- Is the organisation expanding/restructuring or moving services overseas? Demonstrate your research on the organisation, so be aware, for example, if a round of redundancies or closures has been announced publicly and refer to this, rather than expansion.
- What are the biggest changes to the organisation in the last 5 years? Have they moved services online or perhaps merged with another company?
- What is the biggest challenge facing the company (Covid-19 and Brexit aside)? If the organisation trades overseas or has subsidiaries overseas it could be very affected by uncertain political events or climate change.
- Does the organisation have a sustainability policy? If they do, they will be very happy to talk about it, and if they don’t yet, it will almost certainly be on their agenda.
- How does the organisation come together as a team? This will depend on the size of the organisation but could include questions about support for a chosen charity or community support, or social events.
During a Second Interview
In a second interview, the questions would focus more on the details of the role and performance.
- Could you give more detail about the types of projects I would be working on? The more detail you could put into this question the better. You could use information gathered from the first interview.
- How is performance measured and reviewed? This is particularly relevant if a portion of the salary is related to performance.
- Is there a recognised career path for this role? This shows that you are looking for a career with the organisation and intend to stay.
It is unlikely that a candidate would be invited for a second interview before there had been some discussion around terms and conditions. An interview is not the best place for negotiations, but it is fair to ask at what stage this is discussed.
Always try and appear as though you are enjoying the interview, that you want to be there, and you are genuinely interested in the organisation and what they are offering. The interviewer is not trying to catch you out. They want to fill the vacancy with the best candidate who will become a valued colleague.
Questions to Avoid
To improve your interview performance, refrain from asking questions related to salary and benefits early in the process, such as “What is the starting salary?” or “What are your paid leave policies?” Instead, allow the interviewer to learn more about you and your qualifications before discussing these matters.
It’s also important to avoid asking questions that may come across as presumptuous or disrespectful, such as “Do I have the job?” Additionally, do your research ahead of time to avoid asking questions that you could have found the answers to on your own. Take the time to learn about the company and the job you are applying for to show that you are a prepared and thoughtful candidate.
When preparing for your next interview, remember to:
- Always have questions prepared, never say you have none
- Be flexible with your questions and don’t stick to a script
- Ask specific questions that are tailored to the company and position
- Don’t wait until the end of the interview to ask questions, make it a conversation
- Ask questions that you genuinely want answers to, not just to impress the interviewer
Interviews are your chance to demonstrate your skill set and worth to an employer; but, equally, you need to seem keen to be a part of their organisation. Asking questions is an easy way to show how invested you are in becoming a part of their team.
For more advice written by HR professionals to take on board during your job search, explore our blog. Alternatively, reach out for tailored support in ensuring your CV reaches the employers you want to work for. Contact our recruitment specialists today.