QUESTION TIME: Typically, at the end of a job interview, interviewers ask candidates if they have any questions. Tempting though it might be just to say no thank you and leave, this is not the right approach. Here are some expert tips on how to respond.
Professional résumé writer Joe Konop says there are two reasons for asking questions at a job interview. “First, when done correctly, the questions you ask confirm your qualifications as a candidate for the position,” Konop told Forbes. “Second, you are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you. This is your opportunity to find out if this is an organization where you want to work.”
Konop suggests preparing up to five questions per interview and asking three of them. One of the questions he recommends is: “What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?” This is a good question, he says, because it encourages the interviewer to “state exactly what the employer is looking for. If the interviewer mentions something you didn’t cover yet, now is your chance.”
Another good approach is to ask the interviewer to tell you about the company’s new products or its plans for growth. “Do your homework on the employer’s site beforehand and mention a new product or service it’s launching to demonstrate your research and interest,” Konop advises. Your final question, according to Konop, should be to ask, “What is the next step in the process?” He says this question “invites the interviewer to tell you how many people are in the running for the position”.
John Kador of the career site Monster.com says that asking the right questions will “make the interviewer sit up and take notice. It’s no longer enough to be qualified,” Kador adds. “If you want a job in today’s business environment, you have to shine, and there’s no better way to show your excellence than by asking excellent questions.”
Kador says he has based his list of questions on interviews with “recruiters, human resource professionals and job coaches”. Two useful questions are: “What’s the most important thing I can accomplish in the first 60 days?” and “Am I going to be a mentor or will I be mentored?”
Career coach Cheryl Palmer told U.S. News & World Report that asking intelligent questions shows you have prepared well for the interview. “It means that you’re thoughtful about the process and that you’re very interested in the position because you took the time to think of questions that would be substantive.”
One useful question is to ask interviewers what they have most enjoyed about working for the company. “If they’re struggling to come up with something positive about why they like working there, chances are good that you’re not going to be able to come up with anything positive about having worked there either,” Palmer comments. For more on what to say — and what not to say — in job interviews, see “Say it your way”, Business Spotlight 6/2014.