When applying for a job, it's likely that you will have to participate in an interview. You will do well to remember that an interview is a two-way road. Your potential employer is going to ask you a series of questions, but there will be a time when the employer wants to hear your questions and concerns. Asking great questions shows interest in the company. It demonstrates that you are there for more than a job; you want a career.
1. What would be my top priority if I started tomorrow?
This is a great question for two reasons. First, it gives you great insight into what's in store for you, should you get the job. The question also shows that you're invested in the company and that you want to know what is most needed of you. As an added bonus, you get the prospective employer to picture you in the position.
2. Does the company promote from within?
This question establishes the fact that you always look to better yourself. You are not the type of employee who will simply do what needs to be done to get by. Instead, you will do what you can to go above and beyond your call of duty.
3. Are there any gaps in my qualifications that you are concerned about?
At first, this may seem like a question that would backfire. However, if there are gaps in your qualifications, the interviewer might be thinking about them already. Giving the interviewer a chance to freely talk about these concerns gives you a chance to address them. It also lets you know what areas you need to work on, whether it's for this employer or a future one.
4. How do you view the department I will be a part of?
Here you are trying to figure out if the department you are applying for is struggling or not. It will also help you understand the company's hierarchy a bit better.
5. What do you see in the future of the company?
Once again, this is a question that shows you are interested in the company. It helps to set the image that you are concerned about not just getting a job but also the well-being of the company. Sometimes it helps to put a time line in place for this question as well. For example, you may want to phrase the question, “Where do you see the company in five years?”
6. What are this company's greatest assets?
Knowing what your company prides itself on the most is extremely important. This gives you a better idea of what you should focus on and maybe areas where you can help the company improve.
7. How do you see the future of the industry?
This question can help you gauge your employer's outlook for the industry as a whole. If the potential employer is worried about the fate of the industry, you know that you are being hired to help the company strive in a troubled market. If the industry isn't in trouble, the employer is likely hiring you to expand the company and help it flourish.
8. What happened to the person who previously held this role?
Not only does this shed more light on the position you are apply for, but it gives you an idea of what to be on the lookout for if you do get the job. For example, maybe the person who previously held your role is retiring, so the company is simply looking to fill that position. On the other hand, maybe the person wasn't doing the job properly. This lets you know up front that the employer keeps a close eye on that position.
9. Do you enjoy working with this company?
This is a great question because it usually takes employers by surprise. The answer you are hoping to hear is an enthusiastic, “Yes.” This answer should also come with a detailed explanation of why. If the answer is less than enthusiastic, this might throw up a few red flags. For you to do your job to the best of your abilities, you need to actually enjoy going to work. If your employer doesn't enjoy it, what makes you think you will?
10. What's the next step to the interview process?
At the end of the interview, this is a great question to ask. It mostly benefits you. Instead of wondering what comes next, simply ask about it. Most employers tell you, and if the interviewer doesn't, they might have just forgotten.
Just as there are great questions to ask during a job interview, there are plenty of questions you want to avoid. For example, never ask an employer about what the company does. This shows that you didn't do any leg work before the interview, so you must not be extremely interested in the job. Employers want to hire forward thinkers that strive to put their best foot forward. Using the questions above will help you achieve that image.
Guest Author: Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that Amy has held similar roles at Rent.com, eBay and US Interactive. For Amy, corporate culture isn't about dogs and free lunches, it's about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel.