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Posted July 01, 2019 by

8 Interview Questions Job Seekers Should Ask

You’ve landed the interview and spent hours researching the company and preparing your responses to the most common interview questions. You’ve got this, right? Not so fast.

An often-overlooked part of the interview process comes near the end when the interviewer turns the tables and asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” Believe it or not, most employers are expecting you to have insightful queries ready. You can impress employers by being prepared with a few insightful questions that show you’re an attentive listener and truly engaged in the process. The answers can also give you additional insight as to whether this position and company are a good fit.

Consider the following:

1. What particular areas of my background or experience interest you?

The company selected you from the pile of resumes or applications they received for a reason. You may have “checked all the boxes” when it comes to the job requirements, such as having the right degree, skill set or related experience, but typically there is something “extra” that caught their attention and set you apart. Were they impressed with your internships? Did they find your leadership skills in past roles important to this position? Or, was it the way you demonstrated your ability to work well on a team? Asking this question not only shows that you’re interested in the position and what it entails, but it will give you a clue as to what to emphasize in your follow-up letter.

2. What are the most challenging aspects of the job for which I’m being considered?

Again, this question demonstrates your interest in the position-both the exciting, interesting aspects and the difficult, challenging parts. You may find from the answer they provide that the challenges associated with this position are not something you’re willing to accept (e.g., long hours, tight deadlines, or a lack of teamwork between departments). In this case, you may not want to pursue the position. On the other hand, by addressing the fact that you’ve successfully navigated similar situations in the past, you’re demonstrating your ability to handle this position and that you’re not afraid of the challenges that may come your way.

3. What are the most important characteristics needed to succeed in this position?

There are job requirements and then there are the “other” skills that may not be listed that are necessary for success. Job postings often list generic proficiencies such as good communication skills or the ability to work in teams, but what are the real qualities they’re looking for? This question can sometimes tease out those underlying characteristics so you can respond to them either in the interview or in your follow-up communication. For example, if the interviewer says they need someone who is good with details or very organized, you can provide a specific example related to those characteristics.

4. Where do you see this position going in the next few years?

Asking about the future shows that you’re interested in the long term. These days, with so many employees hopping from one job to another, it can be reassuring to an employer that you want to stay with them and pursue a career versus just taking a job as a step toward something else. The answer may also help you decide whether this job is the right fit for you. If the answer you receive is vague, it may indicate that there is no room for growth, or the direction may not be where you want to go.

5. What does a typical day look like?

It’s one thing to describe a job and its responsibilities, but how that position plays out day to day is quite another. Learning about a “day in the life” of someone in this position can help you decide whether you’re really a good fit. Asking the question shows that you’re interested in more than the basic responsibilities-you want to know more about the culture, the interaction with other employees, etc. As a bonus, employees who love their jobs and the company they work for will be enthusiastic about describing a typical day around the office, so you’ll get a sense of the culture. If they aren’t enthusiastic, it may indicate internal dysfunction. If you’ve developed a good rapport with the interviewer, you may want to follow up with a more personal question, such as “What do you like most about working here?”

6. Is this a new position or are you replacing someone?

If the position is new, it may indicate that the company is growing. On the flip side, because it’s a new position, it may not be well defined, which presents its own challenges. If it’s an existing position, it’s fair to ask why the person who previously filled this role left. Does the company have an issue with turnover? Does the position report to a difficult manager? While it’s highly unlikely that the interviewer will provide this type of negative information, the answers you receive could raise a few red flags.

7. Does your company have a mission, vision and set of values? What are they?

If the company lists these things on their website, there is obviously no need to ask. You should already be aware of them from your research. In that case, you may want to mention that you were impressed by the company’s mission or values and feel that you are a good fit with those values because… (insert example here). If there is no mission, vision or values on the website, then it’s okay to ask the interviewer if the company has them and what they are. It may give you a sense as to what’s important to the company, as well as some insight into their culture.

8. Where are you in the hiring process and what’s the next step?

If this information hasn’t already been covered, it’s a good way to wrap up the interview. Again, this reinforces your interest in the position and indicates that you are ready to take the next step. Just as importantly, it lets you know what to expect and how to follow up.

Research shows that as many as 42% of job seekers do not come prepared with questions for the interviewer. Therefore, having some insightful questions at the ready can set you apart from other candidates. It also conveys your interest in the company and helps you decide if it’s where you want to work. Remember, interviews are a two-way street.