The questions you should be asking at job interviews, according to career experts

No, not 'do you do thirsty Thursdays?'

24 May, 2024
The questions you should be asking at job interviews, according to career experts

If you can rely on one thing in a job interview, it's that your potential future employer is going to ask you if you have any questions for them. It can be something that throws off even the most confident interviewee, as it can be hard to know exactly what's appropriate to ask.

While they may sometimes be a curveball, these job interview questions opportunity for you to show you're interested in the business. It also gives you a chance to find out more about the role to see if it's right for you. However, this is precisely not the time to ask whether Thirsty Thursdays are a thing at that place of work, or what happens if you're regularly late. Employers may be asking if you have any questions for them, but you're still very much the one on trial - it's still important you present yourself in the best possible light.

It can be tough to know what questions to ask in a job interview, especially when you feel like you're on the spot, which is where these expert tips come in. Career expert Deepa Somasundari, Senior Director of Strategic Projects at Indeed, Top CV's career expert and coach Amanda Augustine, and Vicki Salemi, Career Expert at Monster, have shared some potential questions for you to have up your sleeve and choose from at the end of your job interview. Good luck!

"Can you elaborate on the day-to-day responsibilities this job entails?"

This is your chance to find out more about what you'll be doing, and get an insight into the nitty gritty of your potential day-to-day goings on. "Job descriptions typically only describe some of the tasks involved with the job they are advertising, so this is a good question to ask," Deepa explains. "The answer will be important for you to take into consideration as you determine whether or not this job is the right fit for you." This should hopefully help you get to grips with what your future work life could look like, and whether it works for you.

 "Why is this position available?"

"This question can provide you with insight into the organisation, Vicki says. "If the previous person was promoted, that shows career growth and potential so you wouldn't necessarily be stuck in a dead-end job. If it's a new opportunity, that's also good news: the department is expanding, and this show's the company's growth. If someone was let go, perhaps it was due to performance reasons. Pay attention to not only why the position is available now, but also the underlying reason. It provides insight into management's expectations."

"What are the characteristics of someone who would succeed in this role?"

Again, this is a sure fire way to see if the role would suit you, and whether your personality is a good fit for the company. Like Deepa says: "The answer to this question will really help you understand what skills and attitudes you’ll need to display in order to be successful and quickly give you an idea of the qualities they hope to see in the person they hire. It will also give you an insight into the characteristics of those you might work with if you accept the job. "

 Ask something about the company based on a headline or a recent social media post.

This one's all about getting specific to show you've done your homework, proving you're committed to and enthusiastic about the role.

"When you prepare for the interview, create a specific question tailored to each employer. This isn’t a specific template question (like the other ones) that you can ask every company, but when you peruse the company’s social media feeds, website, and Google searches before the interview, take note," says Vicki.

"If there’s a photo from a volunteer day posted on throwback Thursday, ask what charities they work with and how often the volunteer day occurs. If the news section of their website indicates they’re expanding to Asia, ask about timing and how that will impact your role."

"What are some of the challenges you’ve seen people in this role or on this team encounter?"

"During your interviews, you want to get a clear perspective of what the job is like as well as its challenges and rewards," Deepa advises. Your job should challenge you, but you also want to know what you're taking on, and whether you'll be able to manage it. "Getting your interviewer's perspectives on potential hurdles will prepare you for difficulties you may encounter but also alert you to ways of handling them."

"Why do you like working here aside from the people?"

Vicki advises asking this question to every person on the team with whom you interview and says it's important to include 'aside from the people' because 'the people' is typically the go-to answer.

"The answer can give you insight into the company's culture and its priorities. Find out if it's the flexibility, career growth, salary, benefits, culture, or something else... If everyone says the same thing such as the ability to work anywhere, then flexibility is a priority in the company's values," she says.

Amanda agrees. "If you’re attending an in-person job interview, pay attention to your surroundings as you’re led to and from the interview room," she says. "Are employees nestled in cubicles or sitting visibly in an open-plan design? How quiet or loud is the office space? Does the office have sleep pods? Is the break room stocked with energy drinks and beer? These little details will indicate the company culture and help you determine if it’s the right environment for you."

"If I were in this job, how would my performance be measured?"

Because everybody wants clear, structured goals, don't they?

"Asking this question will give you more specific information on how you can succeed in this job. The answer to this question will be helpful to you even if you don’t get the job; you may be able to use the insights they share to identify new areas of professional development," Deepa says.

Knowing how work achievements will be measured can help you to perform better in the workplace, and help you to get there more efficiently.

"How will the company support professional development in this role?"

"It's important to see how your potential employer will support your career growth. Will it have a budget for training and conferences? Will there be internal training? Will there be tuition reimbursement if you pursue an advanced degree? Will you be assigned a mentor?" Vicki says.

"You can ask these as follow up questions, but first find out how the company has supported your interviewer or plans to support the new hire in this role. Working for an employer that prioritises your professional development is key, and this question can help provide insight into it."

"What is the salary?"

Indeed's 2019 ‘The Meaning of Work’ report revealed for 57% of the workforce, salary remains in their top five most important factors, and Deepa says there's no shame in asking about it in interview. "Not all job descriptions contain salary information, so while talking about money can be difficult, it's important to ask the question in order to know how the salary compared to market averages and if there’s room for negotiation." Assess the mood; you don't want to sound presumptuous, but if money hasn't been discussed, this is your opportunity.

 "What's the next step?"

Vicki advises saving this question until last, and feels it's important to gain clarity regarding timings and the process, should you be successful.

"As a former corporate recruiter I can say that typically the company isn't going to offer you a job during the interview. They'll complete the round of interviews with several candidates first and evaluate each candidature before making a decision to proceed. Then, they'll get final approvals for salary before extending the offer," she explains.

"Getting a time frame as well as the process (some job interviews include a test, so it's good to know if the process will entail any additional elements) is helpful so you know what to expect—especially if you're juggling more than one employer!"

 "If hired, what are the three most important things you’d like me to accomplish during the first six months?"
"This question is useful to ask because it shows the interviewer that you are confident in your ability to land the job, demonstrates that you are a results-driven professional, and gives you a sense of the manager’s expectations," explains Amanda. "For example, do the goals seem overly ambitious or reasonably achievable? Would these goals allow you to leverage your strengths or hone a skill that’s important for your professional development?

"This question can also help you gauge how well-defined the position is. If the hiring manager isn’t able to answer this question on the spot, then you may want to probe deeper into the job description and requirements so you can decide whether this opportunity is right for you."


Credit: Cosmopolitan UK 

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