Too often people come to the end of an interview and are asked “Do you have any questions for me?” and they give answers like “No, I think I am good.” While it may seem like an unimportant step on the surface, the candidate question portion is one of the most important parts of an interview which shouldn’t be skipped over. I can understand why people do though. It’s the end of the interview and you can get emotionally exhausted. You are just glad for it to be wrapping up; however this is when you need to be the one doing the interviewing. So stay sharp!
There are some interviewers that will view it as a serious negative that you didn’t ask any questions, so right off the bat that’s a good reason to ask some questions. If you don’t ask any questions you can come across like you either don’t care or are a know-it-all. In addition this is when you can get valuable information that you need to be obtaining. For example, it is very important that you use these questions to better find out if this position is right for you. There are few things worse than getting a job and quickly realizing it’s not right for you. In addition, you can use these questions to gain valuable information for subsequent interviews that can help you better position yourself for the position.
Here are a couple questions you should be asking at the end of interviews.
Can you describe what a typical day looks like in this position?
This is a great question that I always ask whenever I have an interview. It’s very helpful for getting a realistic view of what you can expect if you get the position. The important thing to remember to learn from this question is where do they put their emphasis in the work? If there is a particular function they expand upon a lot it is a safe bet that is an important aspect of the job that you should focus on being skilled at once you start. The answer you get may also surprise you, especially if it comes across as more sales based, than you had in mind. If this is the case this might save you the time of pursuing the job even further.
Is there anything in my background you have questions about or need clarification on?
A good defense can help you avoid being skipped over. You may unknowingly have a red flag in their mind so this can be your chance to clear up this issue with them. A gap in employment is always easier to explain face to face rather than just left on a resume. If they have a concern on a lack of relevant experience you can talk this out with them. This question should be used to put some of their concerns to rest. If there are follow up interviews this is great for finding out your weakness so you can better address them in the next interview!
Can you explain the next steps of the interview process?
Not all questions have to have a big picture plan. This is a safe question that you can always ask. Like the typical day question I always ask this at the end of interviews. Any clarification on the timeline is appreciated as I hate waiting without knowing how long I could be waiting. A week? A month? This is also important for coordinating multiple interviews at the same time so you can have a better idea of what to expect with your schedule. If you do get an offer from another company you will also want to get an idea of how long it will be till an offer could come from them. You can’t leave a company waiting indefinitely and they treat you the same way.
Can you describe the culture of the company?
This is another example of using this time to get a better idea of what you are getting yourself into. A good interviewer is sure to go on about this for several minutes which will also give you opportunities for follow up questions. Follow up questions are the secret to real rapport building. After the interview take a moment of self-reflection and really evaluate if what you are told in this answer and what you have personally observed paint a picture of a place you really want to work. My biggest concern is not will you get hired, its will you get hired at the RIGHT job? Once again you can use this answer to better tailor your answers if there is another interview so you can appears like more of an ideal candidate. For instance if they highlight a team work atmosphere you can emphasis your ability to work in team settings.
What are the attributes of an employee that succeeds here?
I consider this one a very big picture interview question. If given a real answer from the employer this can be valuable information in not just having a good second interview but setting yourself up for success if you get hired. You will know what area of your job to focus on perfecting and, more importantly, to put a spot light on. It doesn’t do you any good if you do a job if nobody notices; you need to showcase your talents. Remember this answer when it comes time for performance reviews.
Are there performance reviews? If so how often?
Speaking of performance reviews we need to know they have them! It’s not a universal truth but I am in general wary of companies that do not have defined performance reviews. It leaves open the chance of real talent being overlooked. If you are not comfortable saying anything you can go years without proper recognition, and there are many who are not comfortable. Without proper recognition there is no chance of proper pay for your efforts. A solid performance review program can give you everything you need to stand out in a company. This can be used as a deciding factor if you have multiple job offers as a company with performance reviews has a higher chance of reliable raises.
How do you see the company changing in the next five years?
You will certainly impress the interviewer if you ask this one! The generally don’t expect such a high level question in the course of an interview, especially one from a non managerial role. You will not only impress them with your thoughtfulness but you can also get an idea of where they plan on heading. It is possible you may have some insight that could help them! This will give you an idea of what to expect if you do end up working there so if there are significant changes comes its best to know now! Like most answers this question is only as good as the interviewer lets it be. Keep in mind this is only a plan, it can all fall apart very easily. Don’t take a job just because they offer a shiny future.
What would the training process look like?
I always get nervous when they don’t have a real answer for me with this one. Even in a role I feel comfortable in doing day 1 I need to understand their systems. If there isn’t a real plan for training they aren’t giving you the tools to succeed. It’s also good to know if it’s more of a mentorship program or you will be trained by multiple people in different aspects of the job. There is not right or wrong answer but it helps to know! This also shows you are very serious about the job and are committed to pursuing a future with them. People don’t like wasting their time with those that are not really interested.
Whatever you ask, just make sure you ask something! I like to bring a notepad into interviews with at least four of five of these questions on it so I can fall back to them if I freeze. Asking questions at the end of the interview can solidify a great interview or even help recover a bad interview. More questions mean more opportunities to connect with someone. I hope these interview question tips help you find the right job and get hired!
If you know of any other reliable questions to ask at the end of interviews please let me know in the comments!