Good questions to ask in an interview

Interview“So, over to you. Is there anything you’d like to ask us?” 

Too often, this is the moment when your mind goes blank. You've got through the interview, you've answered well, but now the tables are turned you can't think of anything to say. And that can make it look like you're not particularly enthusiastic about the role, or the company.

But it's easy to avoid falling into this trap. With a quick bit of preparation beforehand, you can make sure you're not lost for words.

Before the interview

Sit down and write a list of at least five questions you’d like to ask. If you get the opportunity to ask questions as you go along, make sure you hold a couple of them back for the end. We've listed some suggestions to help you get started below.

During the interview

Listen to what the interviewer says, and tailor what you ask accordingly. It may sound obvious, but it will seem like you're not paying attention if you ask a planned question that's already been covered. And you're more likely to ask an intelligent question if you're responding to something that crops up.

After the interview

If you remember something you wish you'd asked, it's not too late. Some recruiters advise sending a follow up email to thank the interviewer for their time, so you could ask your question at the same time. And as well as being good practice, it's also a good opportunity to show that you've been reflecting after the event.

Good questions to ask

You'll need to tailor your questions to the role, the company, and yourself, but here are some to get you started:

  • How would you describe a typical day/week in this position?
  • What are the prospects for training/career progression?
  • Who does the position report to? If I am offered the position, can I meet him/her?
  • How would you describe the company’s management style?
  • How will you measure my success in the role?
  • What system of appraisal/performance review do you use?
  • How many people work in the office/department/team?
  • How many staff will I be line managing? 
  • How does the role fit into the team structure?
  • Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?
  • What do you like about working here?

Questions you shouldn't ask (yet)

In our view, this isn't the best time to ask about the salary, benefits packages or office hours at this point. They're practical details which aren't about the role itself and won't help convey your enthusiasm. So they're best saved until you you're offered a job, and before you accept it.

Similarly, it's worth thinking about how and when to ask about flexible working. Although attitudes to flexible working have shifted as a result of the pandemic, it's still not something you should focus your questions on too early in the process.

So if the role was clearly advertised as a part-time or flexible job, you could ask an open question at your final interview, such as how the organisation approaches flexible working, or a more specific one about how this particular role might unfold.

If you're interviewing for a full-time role, it might be better not to bring it up until you've got an offer. And again, using an open question is a good approach, such as asking whether there is any scope to carry out the role on a flexible basis.

Butt otherwise, asking questions is a great way to show your enthusiasm for the role, and can help you create a rapport with the interviewer too. So do some planning, and give it your best shot.

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