5 smart questions you must ask during your job interview

This is the time of year when college students are off to an internship, summer job or a new career after graduation. At your job interview you’ll hear frequently asked questions about the job requirements and about your qualifications. But often the most terrifying question is, “Do you have any questions for me?”

There are some questions that you might not want to ask during an interview. (Credit: imgarcade)

There are some questions that you might not want to ask during an interview. (Credit: imgarcade)

It’s easy to think that the interview process is all about the prospective employer getting to know you. But when they want to know what questions you have for them, you need to sound intelligent, knowledgeable about the company and interested in the job. The worst thing you can do is say, “No.” You are a new business professional in the working world, so the job interview questions you ask need to reveal your personality, knowledge of the company and ability to succeed in the job.

Ask memorable questions

What’s important is “actually asking the kinds of questions designed to make the interviewer sit up and take notice. It’s no longer enough to be qualified,” wrote John Kador at Monster in the article “Nine Memorable Questions to Ask at Your Interview.” “There’s no better way to show your excellence than by asking excellent questions…. Don’t squander the opportunity to shine by asking mundane questions the interviewer has heard before. Your goal is to make a statement in the form of a question,” added Kador. Your questions should:

  • highlight your qualifications
  • demonstrate your confidence
  • reinforce your commitment
  • understand the employer’s challenges
  • advance your candidacy 

Kador suggested asking questions like: What exactly does this company value the most, and how do you think my work for you will further these values? What will have happened six months from now that will demonstrate that I have met your expectations? Do you have any concerns about my being successful in this position?

Here are 5 more questions to ask:

1.  What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals? Do your homework: Before going to the interview research the company. Read their website, read their blogs and press releases about it and call the department you’d be working in and ask some questions. “Because you’re not just working for one boss or one department, you’re working for the company as a whole,” said the editor of Daily Muse in “51 Interview Questions You Should Be Asking,” posted October 15, 2013.

2.  What happened to make this position available? It could be the position is newly created; if so, it would be good to know what they expect from the person who is filling it. Otherwise, you want to know what happened to the person who held this job before you, what he or she did wrong to be let go and what you can do to meet the employer’s expectations successfully.

3.  What is the top priority for the person in this position over the next three months? In the article “The Best Questions to Ask During a Job Interview” by Aaron Guerrero, posted at U.S. News, October 23, 2013, Cheryl Palmer, a career coach and founder of Call to Career, said: “This question is helpful so you know what to focus on if you do get the position. Without a clear expectation, you won’t know what to accomplish or how to make the right impression during your first days on the job.” Guerrero added: “By asking thought-provoking questions, you can not only collect valuable information but also distinguish yourself from the pack.”

4.  Does this position offer growth potential? This question will tell the interviewer that you are ambitious, are interested in staying with the company, want to grow with it and won’t be content to just coast along. For you, the answer will tell you if the company itself is on a growth path or is stagnating.

5.  What have you enjoyed about working here? This is a sly question to gauge the climate of the company. The interviewer can relay what he or she values in the company and share success stories. It’s a bad sign if the interviewer hesitates too long to tell you something positive about working there.

Do you have suggestions for other good questions to ask an interviewer?

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