What Should You Ask In the Interview?

By Joe Stein

Traditionally when you are at the end of an interview the tables are reversed and it is your turn to ask any questions of your Interviewer. I write “traditionally” because my personal style is to ask the candidate that question at the beginning and the end of the conversation. I think it makes for a better conversation to resolve any questions right in the beginning.
 
During this portion you want to impress the Interviewer with your questions, but not to overwhelm the person in full interrogation mode. The goal is to show your engagement without making the Interviewer feel uncomfortable. So what should you ask? This can be especially challenging because what you probably really want to ask about…pay and benefits are generally taboo until the prospective employer brings the subject up.
 
It is generally common sense what “NOT” to ask, but if you need a refresher on this list check out our website at www.wnyjobs.com and go to our article archive.   Let’s now spend some time reviewing a list of 5 types of questions that generally are well received by an Interviewer. They can also provide you with some desired information that may help you decide if you are interested in the role. Review and select those that will work best due to the dynamics of your conversation and are of the most interest to you.
 
·         Manager/Direct Report Relationship – These types of questions work best when interviewing with your potential supervisor. It sends the signal to the person that you will take the professional relationship very seriously and want to make it a productive one for both parties. You can ask about what does the Manager most value from a Direct Report and also inquire regarding the leadership style of the individual. You can then decide for yourself if there is an alignment between the two of you.
 
·         Ask About the Company Culture – In general, Interviewers love talking about their company and the good things about it. If they don’t jump at the opportunity you may have yourself a warning sign. Unless you want to probe more, however, you probably won’t hear much in the way of constructive criticism on the topic. With this question you will learn more about how much they value their employees and perhaps what they do to show it. You can try to perhaps pick up detail on any negatives via your network especially if you know others who current work there.
 
·         Inquire About the Industry – This is another topic that most Interviewers feel comfortable with and want to talk about. The question should also provide you with a sense of how the organization is doing in comparison to its competitors. It should provide you with information on whether they are in growth, stability, or recovery mode. You can ask “What does the company really do well” to break the ice on the subject. To add a little detail around any related questions do a little research on the company prior to the interview.
 
·         Talk About the Open Position – By this point you should know enough thru the posting, Job Description, and interview to ask questions specific to the job. To the business partners ask about what they most need from this position (i.e. what about the position do they really value). You can ask your future Manager about key initiatives or focus items the rest of the year.   Consider inquiring with all groups regarding what they feel will be the biggest challenge facing someone who starts this position. 
 
·         Find Out Why Is the Position Open – If this has not been covered already you can ask the Hiring Manger about why the position is open. If it is a new position this can represent a great sign of growth and/or opportunity assuming the position has been fully approved and budgeted. If there was an incumbent departure, you will most likely not hear much more than just some fact-based information. If the Hiring Manager starts speaking in negative detail regarding the previous person it should probably serve as a red flag to you.
 
As you read the list above, it was probably apparent that there are numerous excellent questions you can ask an Interviewer.  Be ready for your time by mentally preparing your list of questions to use as necessary during the course of the interview. Since the Q&A period of the discussion is usually right before closure this provides you a great opportunity to close the conversation in a very positive manner. 
 
As always, best of luck in your job search!