Written by Ann Mossop, Employment Specialist with Next-Steps Employment Centre – Downsview
Many job seekers are under the mistaken impression that you should never ask questions of the employer and that being passive during an interview is the desired communication style. This is a very wrong perception of what employers want. If you are invited to an interview, the interviewee should be talking about 80% of the time and the interviewer 20% of the time.
Here are some things to consider when preparing what questions to ask an employer in your next job interview.
Prepare: Many employers end the interview by asking “Do you have any questions for us?” Prepare your questions to ask before you arrive at the interview. You can include your question sheet in a nice portfolio along with a copy of your cover letter and resume. Use your portfolio as an effective and functional prop during the interview to demonstrate your preparation. A portfolio looks professional and can accommodate the other documents that you have brought for the interview. Refer to your portfolio when it is your turn to ask the questions.
An Interview is a Two-Way Street: This is also a time for the candidate to assess the position and the company, while still keeping in mind that the hiring decision belongs to the employer. Avoid questions about salary and benefits unless the employer specifically asks for a range or an amount. Try to provide answers and questions that focus on the employer’s needs and how the company can benefit from having someone like you as an employee.
Questions: It is only natural to have questions that you want to ask an employer about a potential position. Your questions need to be sincere and authentic. When choosing the right questions to ask, remember that they need to be appropriate to the position and responsibility of the job. Here are some possible examples for your consideration:
- Can you tell me more about the daily responsibilities of the job?
- How do you measure success within the first 3 months? Within the first 6 months?
- Can you tell me about your company/organizational orientation process for new hires?
- What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this position?
- Describe the culture of the company.
- What are the biggest opportunities facing the company/department right now
- What is a typical career path for someone in this role?
- What is your company’s organizational structure and management style?
- What are some examples of the best results produced by people in this position?
- What do you consider the primary focus of this job?
- Who do I report to?
- How much travel is involved?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
Remember, you want to have a fairly extensive list of questions identified in your portfolio because you want to pick questions that have NOT been answered in the interview. Try not to ask too many questions. Usually, 3-4 questions would be sufficient. Your questions are important to the Interviewer and are a strong indicator of your interest in the job.
Take the time to craft effective questions and you will be one step closer to your new position!
Need more help preparing for an interview? Check out our monthly calendars to see upcoming events and workshops, and register at one of our 7 GTA locations. From one-on-one interview practice and video-recorded sessions to group workshops, our knowledgeable staff can help ace your next interview! All services are FREE.