Most job seekers understand that they need to ask questions during a job interview. Not asking questions is an admission of lack of attention, lack of interest, or lack of preparation. Right now, most employers have too many other people to choose from to offer a job to someone who doesn’t seem very interested.
Not asking the right questions also leaves you vulnerable to taking a job you may hate or not do well. (Been there; done that – terrible experience!)
4 Important Reasons to Ask Good Questions in Job Interviews
1. To find out if you want to work at this employer, with and/or for these people.
It is essential to know whether you’d enjoy the job or be job hunting soon because you either got fired or quit because you couldn’t stand the place.
2. To find out if you want to do this job.
Maybe this is the right employer for you, but the wrong job. Perhaps that can be fixed immediately, or maybe you stay in touch until the right opening happens.
3. To demonstrate your interest in the employer.
If you’re going to work there, you should want to understand how the place is organized, who does what and when, what a typical day/week/month/year in that job are like, and on and on and on.
4. To demonstrate how you approach a task in your work.
Many employers view a job interview as a “try-out” for a job. Does the candidate come in well-prepared and focused on making the most of the opportunity or do they walk in unprepared, waiting to be “fed” information and providing canned answers to the standard questions?
Show Your Interest in the Employer and the Job
Several recruiters have emphasized that they do not want to hire someone who isn’t interested enough in the organization to have done some research. A couple of years ago a recruiter sent out this great tweet (81 characters) –
Don’t ask a question in a job interview that you could have answered with Google.
In my discussions with recruiters since then, I believe that what the recruiter was really saying is do not ask the obvious questions that you have hopefully already answered doing your pre-interview (and perhaps your pre-application) research online.
Employers do want to hire someone who really wants to work with them. Someone who is interested in what they do and who they are.
DO ask questions like:
- Tell me more about this job. What do you expect of the person doing this job successfully? What would you want the person in this job to do that didn’t make it into the job posting?
- Where do you see this job in 2 years? In 5 years?
- What do you think makes this organization successful?
- What makes someone successful in this organization? What are the qualities they have? How are they different from people in less successful organizations?
- How did the previous person in this job succeed?
- Where is the person who did this job now? (You want to know if they got promoted, made a lateral move, or left the organization.) How long were they in the job?
- What are the toughest aspects of this job, the things that others in this job have struggled with?
- What did people seem to enjoy the most?
- Do you have any concerns about me?
- Where are you in the hiring process?
- What is next for me?
- How and when will I hear from you after this interview is over?
- If I don’t hear from you by (time frame they gave in answer to the question above), may I call you?
- Who else should I stay in touch with?
Do NOT ask questions like:
- What does this company (or organization) do?
- Who is the CEO?
- How long has this company been in business?
- Where else does this company have locations?
- Who are the competitors?
- How well is this company doing?
- How much vacation time? What are the benefits? (This is not usually a question for the first round of interviews!)
More About Preparing for Interviews:
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.