Questions job seekers should ask during a job interview.
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You saw an advertisement, you submitted a resume and cover letter, they called and you went off to an interview for the job.
So, you are there. An interviewer asks you a series of questions, you answer all of them and then comes the last question" Do you have any questions for us at this time?"
Most people get stunned at this point and majority will answer" No, there are no questions I have for you". Even if a person has questions about the position, company, an opportunity etc., many will opt to keep silent rather than blow up the opportunity of landing the position by asking a question which may be inappropriate or forward asking.
Why you should ask questions during the job interview?
Deciding to play it safe and not ask questions can and will more often backfire than asking questions. An interviewer is not only interested in being able to answer your questions before you leave but he or she is also looking of how much homework had you done learning about the position and the company you are applying at. By asking questions you are engaging an interviewer into a conversation where he or she is learning more about you therefore building an additional rapport with you. This will increase your chances of landing the position and will give you a second chance to sell yourself as a right person for the position.
Asking questions may also reveal additional details about the company or the opportunity. Those details can be important factor in you making the final decision to or not to accept the position in the end. Knowing as much as you can about the job you are applying for is only advantageous to you so you should not pass on this opportunity while you have a chance to ask those questions.
Questions you should ask.
POSITION YOU ARE APPLYING FOR
Ask about the position you are applying for. Is the position a new one or are you taking over for someone else?
This is very important question. If a position is a newly created one there may be lots of loose ends you may need to iron out since usually new positions or titles within the company lack the clarity and process that an established position has. Demonstrating that you are up to the task may score you extra points and give you an edge over other applicants.
Who will you be reporting to? What is their background, history with the company etc?
This may or may not be known to an interviewer but in a worst case scenario at least it shows to an interviewer that you care about your future at the company. As explained earlier there are two reasons you should ask questions, one to learn about the job you are applying and other to build the additional rapport with the interviewer. Both can be crucial for your success in landing the job as well as your overall success and satisfaction with the job once you start working.
You want to know not only where you will start in your new position but also where you will find yourself in six months, year, five years from now. What kind of opportunities are for advancement, lateral move (same career level but different position), etc. You do not want to get yourself stuck in same position with no room to grow else you will find yourself looking for another job not long from the time you started working the job you applied for.
What happens now? Make sure you are familiar with the hiring and decision process. What is the next step the interviewer will undertake? How long will they anticipate to take before they decide which applicant is right for the job? Do they have many more applicants to interview and where in the process are you (i.e. have they just begun interviewing for the position and will take some time to decide or had they interviewed most of the applicants already and will make the decision in next few days, etc.).
You want to be prepared and have a general idea of your chances of landing the job at this time. Asking about the process will give you a general idea of who else is applying for a job, how much of a competition are you facing and if you are lucky and have a good rapport with the interviewer, he or she may even give you a glimpse of how you done comparing to other applicants.
WHO TO FOLLOW UP WITH?
Ask if it is OK to follow up with someone about the interview and when you should follow up? Ask if there is an opportunity to talk to someone about the tour of a potential work place or perhaps job shadowing with someone for a few hours. You may or may not get an opportunity to visit the workplace or job shadow but if this is available you may be ahead of other applicants who had not asked for this opportunity. Alternatively, this again may score you few bonus points in demonstrating to an interviewer that you are serious about the position so even if you are declined the opportunity to tour the company premises or job shadow with someone, you have still benefitted from the question.
Knowing whom to follow up and when will reveal additional details about the hiring process and what lay ahead of you. Also, the follow up is an important process of the looking for a job process and you should always attempt to follow up on the progress after the interview. Do not leave it up to the company to call you and let you know. Many companies have it as a policy that they will wait for an applicant to call and request the follow up on the interview as a way to prove that an applicant is genuinely interested in the position they had applied for.
The previous are just few of examples of why it is better that you ask questions when given an opportunity. Playing it safe and choosing not to ask questions from the fear of asking something you are not supposed to ask is not a best approach.
However, you should exercise some structure during the question period and you should not just shoot out questions or try to make them up on the go in order to prolong the interview process. You have to remember that an interviewer in front of you is an experienced professional and that their time may be limited and valuable. If you can't think of anything constructive to ask not asking anything is a better way. But again, you should never find yourself in a situation where you do not know what to ask.
Prepare yourself ahead of time and well before the interview. Write down the list of potential questions you may want to ask the interviewer. Do some research about the company, key people within the company, etc. You may or may not end up asking all or none of questions you had prepared but at least you will have something structured to go with instead of scrambling as to what to ask.
You should also take brief notes about what you were told. You do not need to write an essay but a point form set of notes will allow you to go back to information given and remember what you were told. And again, this will show the interviewer that you genuinely care about the position you are applying for.
When an interview is done, remember to thank an interviewer for their time and make sure if you are not given already to ask for their business card. You never know if and when you may need to get in touch with the interviewer and having a visual record of who you spoke with (business card) is of great help. Thanking an interviewer for their time shows them you are professional and mature and you respect the opportunity given.
An interview process is much more about how well you answer the few questions you are asked. It is about the way you look, the way you act and the way you sell yourself as a best person for the job. Seizing on all opportunities that present themselves to you will increase your chances of getting the job you are applying for.