When we prepare for a job interview, the natural approach is to consider which questions we are likely to be asked and to formulate appropriate answers. However, sometimes we focus so much on the questions that the interviewer will ask, that we neglect to think about the questions that we should ask!
Asking the right questions can demonstrate that you:
- Have researched the company
- Have a genuine interest in the role and what it involves
- Are confident enough to be a good communicator when required
- Not only understand that you need to be a good fit for the employer, but also that they need to be a good fit for you
Here are five of the most important questions to ask a potential employer:
1. What are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
This is an opportunity to ensure you fully understand what the employer is looking for. If the employer brings up any points that you haven’t already discussed, this is your opportunity to expand upon them. The employer should be left with no doubt that you can meet all their expectations and needs. You may even want to ask if the employer has any reservations about your qualifications, so that you can alleviate any concerns that they may have – but if do decide to ask, make sure you’re prepared to answer!
2. Who previously held this position and why did they leave?
This gives you a wealth of information. If the person was fired, why? You can reassure the employer that you are different in this regard and a similar problem won’t occur. If they were promoted, you now know that the position has the potential for advancement. If they left the job, what was the reason? Does the reason make you reconsider whether you actually want the job?
3. What are the things you like and dislike about working here?
This gives you a good insight into the way the company runs and the staff’s general satisfaction levels. If the employer cannot give good reasons as to why they like working here, chances are they don’t – and you need to consider whether you want to work at a company where even the employer isn’t happy!
4. Do you offer continuing education and training?
This shows that you are keen to grow and improve in your position and that you feel you are valuable enough to deserve remuneration of this kind. Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to also ask whether there is opportunity for advancement in the role or the company.
5. When can I expect to hear back and when would the chosen candidate be required to start?
This is simply need-to-know information. Just make sure you ask politely and respectfully, to ensure that you don’t appear impatient.
Almost as important as the questions you should ask are those that you shouldn’t!
- Don’t ask questions about the company that you could or should have found out in advance
- Don’t ask about money, hours or holidays yet – you need to show that you are keen on the job itself, rather than its perks
- Don’t ask if you got the job – if you got it, you will be informed
Of course, there will always be exceptions to these rules and you will have to use your own judgment to adjust which questions which are appropriate and which to avoid. Being proactive in your research and finding out as much about the position and employer in advance will only benefit you and allow your choices to be better educated. By being prepared, you can avoid surprises and leave the interview room confidently – knowing that you have portrayed yourself in the most authentic, positive light.