Why You Should Always Prepare Questions to Ask at an Interview

By Courtney Wright

Interviews are a test to determine whether you’re a fit for the vacant role, right?  Wrong; that’s only half of the equation.  While interviews are an opportunity for an employer to assess your fit with the role’s requirements, interviews are equally a chance for you to assess your fit with the organisation so if you receive the job offer you’re in a position to accept or decline, armed with all of the facts.

How do I do that? 

The research you do as part of your job search, and then as part of your interview preparation, will help you gain an understanding of the organisation and key factors such as their values, workplace environment and corporate culture.  But there will be gaps.  There will be elements you wonder about, can’t find an answer to, or would like to learn more about, and these will form the basis of the questions you ask.

Make sure your questions are thoughtful and touch on topics of interest to you regarding the organisation, team, department or role.  Most people love to talk about themselves

too, so don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer a couple of personal questions (within reason!) such as what motivated them join the organisation, what they enjoy most about working there, what they found most challenging upon joining the firm themselves, or how would they describe the company’s culture.

What if I don’t have any questions?

Questions help demonstrate your interest in the role, always try to ask at least one or two.  Having spent years interviewing candidates, one of the biggest let downs was reaching the end of an interview and asking the age old question: Do you have any questions? and hearing No. in response.

Do you have any questions we can answer for you?  No.

I recommend preparing questions ahead of time that you’d like to ask the interviewer.  Write these down and bring a professional folder or notebook with you if you can’t remember them all. Then when you get to the stage in the interview where you’re asked whether you have any of your own questions, you can mention that you do and you wrote them down, and then refer to your notes.

There are times when the interviewer is so informative that all of your questions have been answered through the course of the interview, so in those situations respond with something along the lines of: I did have some questions but you’ve kindly answered most of them already, so just one last question…  and then come up with somethingto ask!

A few suggestions…

  • Use the opportunity to clarify any details or expectations of the role you didn’t fully grasp from your research.
  • Don’t open with a question about vacation time – this can give the impression you’re more interested in the time away from work than at it.  Be equally careful when
  • phrasing questions about salary or benefits packages.
  • As a general rule of thumb, prepare 7-10 questions ahead of time – that way if some of those are answered during the interview you still have a few left.
  • Don’t ask about details you easily could have worked out for yourself – information from their website, for example.  This says “I didn’t prepare for this interview,” and this obviously isn’t the impression you want to make.
  • Do respect the interviewer’s time: asking way too many questions could have the opposite effect, making you seem more like hard work than an interested and enthusiastic potential hire.
  • Don’t be surprised if the interviewer opens the interview by asking if you have any questions rather than ending this way.  I’ve been in this position myself on more than one occasion, so it pays to prepare ahead of time.
  • A great wrap-up question is something like “What are the next steps?” – the answer to this can give you some helpful insights into the recruitment process such as timeline for hearing the outcome of your interview and what the next stage of the process will entail.

 

Courtney Wright is an experienced international recruiter and the Business Development Manager in UTS:Careers at the University of Technology Sydney.

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.

Article originally posted on LinkedIn.

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