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Questions to Ask a Potential Employer in an Interview

Many people looking for a job put all of their focus on how to answer interview questions, but forget that they are there to ask questions too. When meeting with a potential employer, both you and the individual conducting the interview are there to ask questions.

You may be asking yourself why you should bother to ask questions, when you should be preparing how to answer them. However, there are a multitude of reasons for asking the interviewer questions.

It is important to show interest in the job that you’re interviewing for. No one wants to hire a candidate that isn’t dedicated to the job. Asking your interviewer questions shows that you care, and simultaneously enables you to learn more about the position to see if it would be a good fit. They are there to learn about you, but you are also there to learn about them. This communal relationship between the interviewer and a potential employee should be taken advantage of for everyone’s benefit. It not only helps to make you stand out from your competition, but also allows you to determine if the job is a right fit for you.

Asking tailored questions shows you did some extra work before coming to the interview, which emphasizes initiative on your part. Recruiters want an employee who comes prepared. Make sure to do some research on the company to ensure you aren't asking questions that you should have already known the answer to.

With all of this is mind, you need to make sure that you are asking the right questions. Interviewers draw conclusions about you based on the questions you ask—and don’t ask.  A ‘right’ question should confirm your qualifications as a candidate for the position. They must be researched and tailored. Typically the best questions are ones that lead to discussion, which gives you both the opportunity to learn—particularly open ended questions.  You should prepare at least five questions, as some might be answered while the interview is being conducted.

Possible topics for discussion include the following:

The Job

It is important to know what you will be doing for this particular position, so that you know what you’re getting into. It allows you to determine if you are both willing and able to do the work that will be asked of you. You could also ask what a typical day in the office would look like, so that you will know to expect on a day to day basis. This demonstrates that you’re thinking beyond the interview and visualizing what it would be like to actually do the work. You could also ask about the biggest challenges a person in this position will face, as it demonstrates how you are being thoughtful about what it takes to be successful in this position.

Requirements for the Position

Is there required training before starting? How does training work? What will be required of you daily? You will want to know what you are getting into before you commit. These types of questions enable both you and your interviewer to determine your ability to successfully take on this role in the company. This also demonstrates how you are not an employee who is simply seeking to do the bare minimum, and instead an individual who truly wants to excel in this position.

Expectations

This can include questions regarding what the company can expect from your performance to what you can expect from them as employers. It would also be good to ask if these expectations will change over time.

The Company

What future plans does the company have? Where can company employees see themselves in two, five or ten years? This would be a good opportunity to discuss not only your long term career goals, but also the possibilities of your career progression with this particular company. Ask about advancements you could work towards, and get a basic notion of mobility within the company.

The People

Will you be working with a team? Who will you be working with directly? Who will you be reporting to? How big is the staff? These are just a few possibilities of what you could ask regarding the current employees. You could also inquire about how current employees succeed in order to get a notion of how you can as well with a question like, what type of people tend to really thrive?

The Atmosphere

This is a chance to ask about the culture of the company, and the type of environment that you will be working in. This could include any topics from the daily dress code to any company events that are hosted. How would you describe the culture here? This is the opportunity to get the inside scoop regarding the office environment. Whether it is formal and structured or low-key and relaxed, you want to be working in an office that you feel comfortable. Inquiring about the management style would also be a good idea, as your boss will heavily impact your quality of life at work. An indirect way of asking these types of company atmosphere questions could be, what do you love most about working there?

The Wait

These are any additional questions that you may want to ask regarding the recruiting process—that is if they aren’t already covered in the conversation. What further steps are required for completion of the hiring process? When should you expect to hear back? This is a good way to wrap up an interview so that you know when you should be receiving a response.

Make sure you spend just as much time preparing the questions you intend to ask as you do the rest of your interview preparation. Be genuine and be yourself. Good luck!

Want to practice before the interview? Potomac Recruiting provides interview training and mock practice sessions that will enhance interviewing skills and boost confidence. Please contact us to speak with experts to learn more about how Potomac Recruiting could help prepare you for your next interview.  

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