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 it is possible that the candidate will be invited to ask questions during the different stages of the interview.
It is a good idea to have some questions prepared, although unplanned questions will demonstrate that you are listening and reacting to specific issues raised in the interview. A good interview preparation will have included research into the organisation and you should keep any highlights of this in mind, to form the basis of your questions.
Questions from a candidate to an interviewer fall into two broad categories:
Questions about the Role
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
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 they 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 around support for a chosen charity or community support, or social events.
The above 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.
At 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 project 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.