One of the things I hear without fail is that you should always, always ask questions in a job interview. If you don’t, you risk looking like you don’t care about the position or the company, or like you can’t get it together enough to ask any questions.
The problem is, what do you ask? What if you really don’t have any questions?
I started asking questions in interviews when I started trying to get my first real job. I knew it was important, but I also knew that I didn’t exactly have any pressing questions that had to be answered – at least, no questions to which I couldn’t find the answer myself. Over the years, both as a job-hunter and a recruiter, I’ve come up with – and answered! – a number of questions that work well in an interview. Here are a few Dos and Don’ts:
♦ Ask things you actually want to know! It’s okay to ask a real question that you actually have, like what the culture of the team is like or what the work/life balance is (and yes, I do think it’s okay to ask this – if you want work/life balance and they can’t offer it, it’s better to get that out in the open before everyone wastes their time).
♦ Ask things that show you’ve done your research. If you saw something interesting on their website or in the news, ask about it!
♦ Ask general questions about the day-to-day life in the role. How would your success be measured? What does a typical day look like? What is the management style of the person who would be your boss?
♦ Ask what they think. What do they like about working for the company or in the position? What do they think would be the biggest challenge for someone newly in the role?
♦ Feel free to ask why the role is open. It can be awkward, but it can also be really good information. If I’d known my former position was open because turnover was incredibly high? I’d have saved myself a LOT of pain.
♦ Ask what the rest of the interview process looks like or when you should expect to hear back. It may not go exactly according to plan, but it’s good to get a general idea, at least.
♦ Ask something you should know the answer to. If it’s on their website, you should know from doing research. You may ask how many people are in the department; if the number of people in the company is easy to find, you may want to avoid asking that.
♦ Ask questions the person can’t answer. Obviously, you don’t always know what they can and can’t answer, but if you’re just doing a first-round phone call with a recruiter, you may not want to delve deeply as into the role as you would with the hiring manager. The recruiter may not know the very detailed specifics of the role, but the hiring manager, who lives it every day, will.
♦ Ask too much about pay/benefits. There’s a time and a place, and usually that time and place is later on, one the manager or recruiter has brought it up.