While the prospect of asking an interviewer questions is undeniably daunting, a recent study found that people who ask follow-up questions are better liked (and, therefore, more likely to land a job) than those who do not. Not to mention, this is a job you're considering spending 40 hours a week working (if not more)—it's expected that you'll have a few questions.
To find out which ones we should be asking, we tapped career coach Rose Keating. "The best questions to ask an interviewer are questions that are highly specific to the role, company, and industry you're interviewing for," she explains. "Ideally your questions will demonstrate that you're critically thinking about how the role fits within the organization and how the company is competing within the industry."
Ahead, a career coach with years of experience helping women land their dream jobs shares six of the most impressive questions to ask an interviewer, including two of the most common mistakes people make (and how to avoid them).
Kicking It Off
When it's your turn to ask the questions, Keating advises asking questions that'll help you decide if the role is the right fit for you. Remember, interviewing is a two-way street—you need to assess the role, the manager, the company, and whether or not this is a job you actually want.
"A secondary goal is to impress the interviewer with how much you've researched the industry, company, department, and the role, and that you're thinking critically about what you've researched," she explains. Below, Keating shares a few questions to get the conversation going with these goals in mind.
The Question: In my first 90 days of employment, what's the biggest thing I could help get done?
Why You Should Ask It: "This shows that you're focused on the value you can provide to the company instead of what they can do for you," explains Keating.
The Question: What do believe your competitors do better than you?
Why You Should Ask It: "This will give you an idea of the company's weaknesses, as well as what they're working on in order to improve," says Keating. "Be sure to ask it in a collaborative, curious tone, not an aggressive one," she advises.
The Question: How do you think (a particular trend) will affect your business?
Why You Should Ask It: "Research the current trends in the industry, and ask them how they think a particular trend will affect their business," advises Keating. "This question demonstrates that you're knowledgeable about the industry, that you're analytical, and that you can think about the bigger picture, all of which are signs of a good leader," she explains.
The Question: What is your strategy for securing your place in the marketplace and ensuring that your competitors do not encroach on your market share in regards to (a particular product or service)?
Why You Should Ask It: "You'll need to fill in the blanks in order to demonstrate that you understand who their competitors are and what their current position is in the market," says Keating. "This question lets them know that you think strategically and that you're interested in the overall company strategy, not just getting any job."
Mistakes to Avoid
"The number one mistake not asking any questions at all," says Keating. "This is often perceived by hiring managers as a lack of overall interest and an inability to think critically about the potential role and the company." Not asking any questions "virtually guarantees you will not get a second interview," she adds.
"The second biggest mistake is asking predictable, generic questions that could be asked in any job interview, such as What is the company culture like? or What are the most important qualities for someone to succeed in this role?" says Keating. "Of course, these more generic questions are okay if asked in addition to role- and company-specific questions that demonstrate intellectual curiosity and strategic thinking," she explains.
Wrapping It Up
Toward the end of the interview, there are a few logistical questions you shouldn't skip asking. Ahead, Keating shares the two questions she recommends wrapping up your interview with so you can address any lingering concerns the interviewer may have about your capabilities and prepare yourself for the next in the process.
The Question: Now that you've had a chance to hear more about my background, do you have any concerns or hesitations about my ability to do the job?
Why You Should Ask It: "This is a great question because it allows you to uncover any obstacles you might need to overcome if you make it to the next round of interviewing," explains Keating. "It also allows you to clarify any concerns or misconceptions the interviewer may have about your experience."
The Question: What are the next steps in the interview process?
Why You Should Ask It: "By asking this question, you'll learn when you can expect to hear back from the company about the next round of interviews (or about the potential job offer if you've completed a final-round interview)," explains Keating. Then you can follow up via email accordingly.
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