If you’re looking for a job, you expect to be asked questions during the interview, of course. But don’t forget YOU can also ask questions! In fact, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. (And if they don’t, you can always bring up a question.) This is your opportunity to get valuable information about the job.
The interviewer will ask questions to ensure you have the right skills and qualifications. That’s as it should be. They will refer to your resume to guide them as they ask you specifics about your accomplishments. But you also want to know if it’s the right job for you. Will it be enjoyable to work there? Will you fit in? Will you have a promotional path? Will the salary be good?
These are all legitimate things to know before accepting any job offer. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. (For example, if you ever ask a question during an interview about how much vacation and sick leave you’ll get, you might as well kiss that job goodbye!)
Here are the best questions to ask to find out about these issues.
1. What is the biggest issue this job position needs to resolve in the next 90 days?
Every job opening is designed to solve a problem. This question gives you insight into what exactly that problem is and how you can use your skills to help solve it. This question also shows to the interviewer that you are a problem-solver who wants to go in and contribute to the company. You may be surprised by what they tell you. For example, the answer may be something like, “The biggest issue is that we do not have enough people in that department and we need to grow it by another 5-7 people in the next six months. We lack resources.” Useful insight! You never know… you might know a few excellent job seekers you can recommend to help resolve the issue. Find out where they’re hurting and how you can help.
2. Why do other people enjoy working here?
This will let you know what other employees consider fun and good about the company. That’s valuable information to have. Note that it’s an open-ended question; the interviewer needs to give a specific answer, not just yes or no. With open-ended questions, you get a sense of what the interviewer considers important.
The answer(s) might be broad, ranging from salaries and benefits to perks to unexpected fun things. (Foosball, anyone?) If the answer is something that would also make you happy, it’s a sign you’d be a fit.
3. What growth can I expect from this position?
Many interviewers expect some kind of question about potential growth. Top candidates often ask about promotional opportunities and training opportunities.
Asking about growth opens the discussion to potential promotions, training and even raise structures. It’s a good way to find out about where you could be in several years.
4. Refrain from asking questions about salary and benefits
Ah, the salary question. Do not ask it. Don’t ever bring up salary or benefits. It’s an unspoken rule of interviewing.
Here’s the reason. The employer brings up salary and benefits only when they are serious about making you an offer. You never want to be the first one to mention salary and benefits.
When the employer brings it up, they will make you an offer. You will often be asked what you are looking for, so do your research and have an answer ready. A great answer is, “I have been paid very fairly in previous jobs, and I expect to be paid fair market value for the duties and level of responsibility for this job also.” You will be expected to negotiate salary and benefits.
Until they are satisfied you will fill the position well, they are not going to negotiate. It is not productive for them to negotiate with every candidate who interviews. Some might not fit the bill, after all.
You want to impress them so much with your credentials that when it comes time to discuss salary and benefits, they will offer you the best package possible.