If you look online for questions to ask during a job interview, you might come across dozens or even hundreds of questions. But which ones to pick? Is there really a list of questions that you must ask during a job interview?
The answer is: No. And while it is important to ask questions to show your interest in the job and inquisitive nature, it doesn’t help you at all to ask questions that are irrelevant, petty, or worse, have already been answered.
To avoid this situation, you must walk into the interview with some real questions that you have developed during your research of this particular job opportunity And no, money is not a good question. Focus your questions on the job, the employer, the corporate culture, etc, and be prepared to come up with more questions during the interview, too.
Here are a few steps to follow.
When prepare for an interview, you probably read the job post and focus on the duties and requirements. Jot down all the questions that come to your mind. For example, if the job duties indicate that you will be collaborating with other teams on particular projects, you may ask what other departments you’re likely to work with, what types of projects these are, etc. Ask for examples of past projects and how projects are managed and led.
In less formal front, if the job post describes the company as fun, fast-paced or an awesome place to work, ask about how this translate into daily operations, what activities the employer promotes, how that environment encourages productivity and collaboration from the employer’s perspective.
These are just examples of questions that will help you better understand the job or the corporate culture. And these questions also show that you have read the job ad closely and are interested in working for this particular employer.
The hiring manager and other interviewing staff may answer all the questions that you prepared ahead of the interview. If you don’t want to end the discussion with, “no, I don’t have any questions,” you may mention that you have answered your questions and ask to elaborate on a couple of points.
You won’t be able to come up with these additional points on the spot, so keep it in mind during the interview. Be alert to what others say and write down points that require additional input. Again, be sure you don’t ask a question just for the sake of asking a question. If a point was fully discussed and you still ask about it, it may appear to be a point of concern.
You may ask worthwhile follow-up questions as they come up — if the format of the interview is not set otherwise. By doing so, you would be able to create a better exchange of information, especially if you have more than one person involved in the interviewing process. In addition, you will be able to show how engaged you are in the conversation.
If you have a deal-breaker question, you must ask it early enough. For example, if you won’t be able to make the work schedule that is mentioned in the job post, don’t let the interview run for an hour before you bring this up, especially if you haven’t indicated this issue at any past stage of the interviewing process.
It is understandable that you would like to make a positive impression first before asking for any accommodation. But if that accommodation is not an option for the employer, the hiring staff would appreciate that you save them time.
Having said that, what you might think a deal-breaker might not be one for the employer. So when you bring up the issue, bundle it with a solution. For example, if you won’t be able to be in the office for a full day every work day, ask if it is an option to work from home. Mention past experience when you successfully telecommuted for a job.
If you don’t have a particular credential like a certification or degree that is required for the job, ask if work experience can make up for it. When you propose a solution for why your situation could work, you save the hiring manager from making the assumption altogether. If you’re a great fit otherwise, this accommodation may not be a deal-breaker after all.
Asking questions in job interviews
Steer clear of scripted, irrelevant questions
Pay attention to questions that have been answered
Ask follow-up questions as they come up
Pick the right timing for would-be deal breakers
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.