Asking questions at the end of your interview is just as important as answering them. It reinforces your suitability as a candidate and gives you an invaluable opportunity to find out more about the role and the company you’re applying to.
You’ve finally made it. After having searched for your dream job and completing an application form you’ve been asked to attend an interview. You’ve prepared for all the questions they could possibly ask you, and not only you shine in each one, but you also remember what you want to say and really match your skills and experience to the company and the role. And then they ask you whether you have any questions for them.
This is your chance – never leave without having taken the opportunity to quiz your interviewer: this is where you can demonstrate that you have given it real thought by asking some good questions of your own and end the meeting leaving the interviewer with a great impression of yourself as a potential candidate for the job.
How could I impress you in my first three months?
This is a great question to ask as it shows you’re already thinking ahead and want to do what’s best for the company as well as what’s best for you. It demonstrates commitment; your focus on being a team player, as well as eagerness to make a positive contribution to the company.
The answer is as important as the question, so listen carefully: it will tell you how they would really like to see you perform, and what areas you should be concentrating on.
What challenges could I face in the first three months?
Chances are that you would have already been asked earlier in the interview about the most difficult challenge you’ve encountered so far in your student or working life, and how you overcame it.
Asking this question shows that you are aware that you will encounter challenges that may stop you from reaching your objectives. More importantly, it shows that you are ready to prepare for them and that you are already thinking about how to work through or around them in order to succeed.
Hopefully, this question will prompt the interviewer to momentarily suspend their official role, and give you a personal answer. After all, the views of an insider will carry much more weight than those on the outside.
Do they answer straight away? Can’t they stop ranting and raving about their career progression, the rewards and recognition they are given, and all the other things they love about their employer? That’s probably a good sign. After all, work is a huge part of your life, and you want to be sure you’ll be working with a group of people that actually love what they do.
What’s the working environment and culture of the company like?
If this hasn’t been covered in the interview, ask about it. While you might think that the interview process exists solely to determine whether or not you’re a good fit for the company you’re applying to, you should also use it to understand whether you would fit in, or be so unhappy that you wouldn’t last long.
How does the interviewer describe the environment? What are the words being used? What are the values being mentioned? Make sure that these fit with your expectations of the job, and that you’re comfortable with what’s being said. If the interviewer talks about a ‘fast-paced’, ‘high energy’ and ‘sales focused’ environment, and you shudder just at the thought, then the job is obviously not for you – no matter how many applications you’re already made, and how much you need a job right now, it’s probably best to walk away.
However, if you’ve done your research correctly, the answer shouldn’t surprise you. In fact, now is the time to reassure the interviewer that this is the right job for you. Not forgetting to provide examples of why using the STAR method.
Can people develop quickly here?
It’s important to find out what opportunities there are for promotion and rewards going forward, but also to ask without coming across as if you want to leap into a more senior job before you’ve even got the first one.
While it shows the interviewer ambition, and that you’re committed to learning and growing within the company, the answer will also tell you whether you can expect to be doing the same job in three years’ time, or whether you have a real chance to quickly progress your career through the ranks.
When can I expect to hear from you and what are the next steps?
It can sometimes take a while for hiring managers to come to a decision, or it might just be that there are other candidates in the running for the same job you applied for. So don’t expect an answer straight away.
But if the interviewer doesn’t volunteer what the next steps are in the hiring process, it makes sense to ask. At the very least you’ll get to know how many there are, and what each step consists of, such as further interviews or assessment centres. At the very best you might get an indication that they want to take your application further. And in case you were wondering, Enterprise’s job application process consists of three clear steps.