Every interviewer is out to make sure that you are the best fit for the job. They want to verify as much as they can if you are an expert in the field, a reliable employee, and/or a good investment of their resources.
In order to reassure them, you want to make sure that you’re asking thoughtful questions; questions that drive a good conversation and demonstrate your personality, skills, and knowledge of the work. It also makes the golden rule of interviewing easier, which is to make sure you’re not doing all of the talking.
Here are five questions to ask in a job interview that make you look good (and how to ask them well):
1. I’m excited about this organization and I’m curious… what opportunities are you and your team excited about that are coming down the pipeline in your work and in this industry?
This question is a great one. It positions you as a critical thinker and opens up many opportunities for dialogue about the company and industry. The answers you get from asking this question are going to give you a good idea of what to expect in the next year or so at this company, and it will give you an opportunity to engage your interviewers, ask more questions, and keep them talking.
Pro Tip: Did you know that the more people talk to you, the more they are likely to trust you? It’s weird, but true!
2. Every organization has its own sets of challenges, and I would love to hear from you what specific challenges you believe this organization is facing in the next three years and what your plan is to deal with them.
Asking about the organization’s threats to success can be a delicate question to ask, but it’s no more or less delicate than when an interviewer asks you about your greatest weakness — in fact, it’s practically the same question in reverse. The execution matters here so that you don’t make them feel defensive. But done well, this question can create so much opportunity for conversation.
Pro Tip: You want the interview to be a back and forth conversation as much as possible, and you want to use this opportunity to vet the organization for yourself. This is a great question for that.
3. I think this opportunity sounds like a great fit, but I’m curious as to why this position is open right now. Is it a new position and, if not, what happened to the person who previously filled this role?
This question will give you lots of insight into this opportunity. For one, if it is a new position, you can ask a lot of follow up questions about the potential growth of the job and the expectations. If it is not a new position, knowing whether the previous person to fill the role was promoted, laid off or quit is good insight into the possibilities available to you.
Pro Tip: LinkedIn can be incredibly handy in helping you figure out who held this position before and where they’ve gone. Every little bit of information is helpful when you are considering making a big career move, so use all the tools available to you.
4. I’m looking for a good, long-term fit. Where do you see this position going in the next three to five years?
Asking this question in this way demonstrates that you’re a good investment (you’re looking to stay put for awhile!), but it also gives you an idea of what opportunities for promotion, raises, and leadership might be available while you’re there. If you’re an ambitious person, with hopes of rising quickly through the ranks, you might get a good understanding of the potential for upward mobility by asking this question.
Pro Tip: Be prepared to answer this question yourself if the interviewer turns it back on you. Know where you would like to be in three to five years and how you want to articulate that for the interviewer in a way that makes you look good.
5. Thank you for your time, I’m very excited about this opportunity. What are the next steps?
This question is almost always forgotten about, but it is the most important one! As a candidate for the job, you want to make sure you understand the next steps. You do not want to be left hanging, wondering when you’ll hear from them, when you should follow up, and how long this is going to take. Ask this question to settle your nerves and feel empowered post-interview.
Pro Tip: If the interviewer says, “We’ll be in touch in the next week or so,” respond by saying, “Great! If I don’t hear from you in one week, would you mind if I followed up?” Typically most interviewers are fine with that.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to ask questions that make you look knowledgeable, enthusiastic and personable, but also to vet the company to ensure that the job is a good fit for you. A new job is a huge investment of your time and resources, so you want to make sure you’ve done your best to uncover any red flags ahead of time.
Want to feel more powerful ahead of your interview? Download our free guide to feeling empowered and kicking ass at life!