Job interviews are nerve-wracking. There is a lot at stake for both the candidate and the company, and it's tough to stand out in a sea of competing applicants.
Candidates should be brave and ask the right questions, showing not only their serious interest, but also ensuring that the job is right for them.
"All hiring managers will ask questions that will help determine culture and technical fit," said Caroline Stokes, founder of Forward, a headhunting and coaching company for leaders. "In turn, candidates need to ask questions."
Most professionals do spend at least some time during their interviews asking questions of their potential employer, according to an Accountemps study.
Overall, 84 percent of those surveyed said that, when interviewing for a job, they ask the hiring manager questions of their own. The most common topics they inquire about are salary, corporate culture, benefits and chances for advancement. [See Related Story: How 'Personal' Should You Get in a Job Interview?]
"Sometimes an interview will be very formal, where the hiring manager or recruiter will be in the driving seat and the candidate has the opportunity to ask questions only at the end. Other times, it will be a flow of information going back and forth, more conversational in style," Stokes said. "It's your job as the candidate to be prepared for all of those environments, which enable the interviewer to determine [if] you're a great fit for the role."
Based on advice from our expert sources, here are some questions that you should consider asking during a job interview:
- What's a typical day like for someone in this position? The answer to this question provides you with a better idea of not only what's required of the position on a day-to-day basis, but also how well your would-be boss understands what the job involves.
- What are you currently working on that you're most excited about? When you can hear that the project is something you have knowledge about, you can join in and add value to the conversation, which will help demonstrate your experience as a specialist.
- How does your company typically manage challenging situations? To understand the dynamics of such a challenge, ask the interviewer for a concrete example, and then probe for further details, if necessary. This is another way for you to have a two-way conversation, and also show how you might approach that scenario.
- Why did the person who previously held the job leave? Taking a job that's a revolving door might not be the best move for you. That could mean that there are unrealistic expectations or that previous workers holding the position weren't set up for success.
- What qualities do you need to be successful in this position? This is a chance for you to show how well your skills match what the hiring manager is looking for, and also helps you make sure you have the strengths that you need to be successful.
- What are the greatest opportunities for the company in the next several years? The answer to this question gives you an idea of how the business might fare in the coming years, as well as whether those in charge are more pragmatic or visionary.
- What do you like most about working here? The response will provide insight into the employer's corporate culture and will give you a better sense of what motivates your potential boss.
"It's great when [candidates] ask specific and thoughtful questions based on what they've read," said Brian McClusky, HR director at InkHouse Public Relations. "For example, if there's been recent news coverage and they ask a question based on that, I'm always impressed. They should ask questions about the company's plans for growth, strategic direction and how the candidate and the position might fit into that."
For some more unique questions you can ask your interviewer, visit this Business News Daily article.
Additional reporting by Chad Brooks.