The Importance of Asking Questions in a Job Interview

Walking into any job interview, you know there will be a lot of questions to answer. You are prepared to discuss your education, past employment, challenges, and successes. After an hour of back and forth, you are sure you nailed it. The job is yours to lose. Then, you get hit with one last question you did not anticipate. The interviewer sits back in her chair and asks, “What questions do you have for me?” Your mind goes blank.

This moment is a pivotal point in any job interview. The response that follows tells your professional job recruiter a lot about you and your interest in the position. If you have no questions, that is a strong indicator that the job is not as important to you as you may have made it seem. However, peppering the interviewer with basic questions can reveal that you failed to do your homework before coming to the interview.

A cleverly crafted response to this final question should accomplish a couple of things for you. First, it should reiterate that you are the skilled individual you have represented on your resumé and throughout the interview. You have a lot to offer the organization. Second, it should allow you to determine if this job is a good fit.

The Right Questions

You may have heard that there are no such things as bad questions in school. That statement is patently false in a job interview. Asking the wrong questions can give the interviewer the wrong impression about your motivations and priorities in applying for the job. Similarly, asking the right questions can help confirm their feelings that you are highly qualified and capable of performing the duties of the job and boosting the performance of your team.

What is the difference? Here are some guidelines to follow when asking questions in an interview.

1. Put the Company First – Of course, you want to know about pay, health and dental benefits, and paid leave. Asking about these programs in an interview shows that you are focused on what the company can do for you. Stick to questions about what you can do for the company. These questions will not only help demonstrate your focus on helping the organization thrive, but they are an opportunity for you to discuss your skills further.

2. Vary the Topic – Candidates whose questions all revolve around one subject may be viewed as one-sided. If you ask too much about your boss, you may give the wrong impression about your feelings towards authority figures. Branch out to gain a broader perspective of the position you are interviewing for.

Great topics to discuss with your future employer include:

● Your position, responsibilities, and expectations
● The company culture
● Possibilities for professional development
● The department structure (i.e., your manager and coworkers) and where you will fit in
● The mission and vision of the organization and how you will contribute to achieving company goals

3. Keep it Professional – Avoid asking questions that are too personal. If there is a picture on the wall, feel free to ask about it. However, it is better to keep your focus on the job and get to know each other on a more personal level after you accept the position.

4. Ask Open-ended Questions – “Yes” or “No” questions do not provide much information to you and stunt the conversation. Strive to ask questions that require the interviewer to elaborate, and that will help to continue the flow of discussion that has been present during the interview. Likewise, multi-part questions are challenging to answer completely during a verbal conversation. Ask one question at a time. You can always find out more with a follow-up question.

5. Avoid Generic Questions – Make the questions you ask personal to you to help your interviewer envision you filling the position. Instead of asking what the primary responsibilities for the position are, ask what your primary responsibilities will be. This simple modification allows you and the interviewer to discuss your roles and responsibilities in the interview and determine if you can both see it working successfully.

6. Don’t Ask the Obvious – Only the unprepared applicant walks into an interview without a clear understanding of the organization. Take the time to visit your potential employer’s website. Learn about what they do so you can be prepared to ask more specific questions about how your work will support their vision and goals.

7. Follow-up – Was a topic mentioned during the interview that sparked your interest? Show you are anxious to be engaged by asking in-depth questions about special projects or opportunities. These types of questions present a unique opportunity for you to mention any special qualifications or experience you might have in these areas.

As a job applicant, you may see the interview as a test to pass. While you need to seize the opportunity to showcase your abilities and answer questions well, the questions you ask can tell the interviewer more about you than you think. Asking intelligent questions of a potential employer can set you apart from other candidates who may appear just as qualified on paper. Prepare questions before your interview with a Salt Lake City recruitment firm so you are ready to ask the right questions.

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