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10 Killer Questions to Ask Your Potential Employer

By Jenny Hargreaves, 14th February 2017

An interview might be largely about your potential employer finding out more about you and whether you are the best fit for the role they are trying to fill, but it is also an opportunity for you to find out more about them and whether they are going to best help you to progress in your career. 

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The chance for you to ask questions will usually come at the end of your interview, and it is good practise to have at least two questions prepared that you would like to ask. Your questions should reiterate your interest in the role and your desire to succeed within it, and show that you have done your research. If you do not have any questions ready to ask, you run the risk of your interviewer thinking that you are not that interested or committed. Truly dedicated candidates will think of additional questions that they would like to ask, just in case some are answered during the interview itself.

You should bear in mind that really strong questions to ask will be focused and open-ended. Try and avoid those that have simple “yes” or “no” answers and also those that are so wide-ranging that they are difficult to answer. Remember that you are still trying to develop a good relationship and build up a rapport.

If you are unsure of what it is a good idea to ask during an interview, we have some tried and tested examples:

1.) Why did you choose to work for this company?

This may seem like a relatively simple question, but asking your interviewer for their own personal insight will give you a greater feel for what the company culture is like. Hearing a first-hand account will really help you to decide if the position/ the company is right for you. You could even ask this question during the interview, as it is very common for interviewers to ask candidates why they have been attracted to their company over others (just make sure you ask AFTER having provided your answer!).

2.) What are the greatest opportunities that the department/ company currently has?

Asking this may help you to discern where and what the company will be focusing on and developing in the immediate future. It will also demonstrate your drive to take advantage of any opportunities that you may be presented with.

3.) What are the greatest challenges that the department/ company is currently faced with?

Opposing this, it might be helpful for you to enquire about challenges. Doing so can make you more aware of any issues and trends in the industry. Additionally, describing them as “challenges” rather than “difficulties” automatically puts more of a positive stance on it and show your potential employer that you see it not a negative thing, but as an opportunity to improve, and that you can assist in them doing so.

4.) How do you measure the performance of someone in this role?

This question will display your eagerness to work hard and prove yourself and gives a good example of the fact that you will work hard. A candidate who is already looking to grow and improve within the company will always be looked upon favourably.

5.) What do you think this company will look like in 5 years time?

This will show your interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the company itself, not just the role you are interviewing for. It will also further solidify your commitment to them in their minds. If you are hoping to be with the company for the long-term, you want to make sure that the company will continue to grow and develop so that you can grow and develop with it.

6.) What would you expect from someone in this role in the first 30 days/ 6 months/ year?

You will be particularly glad of having asked this question if you are successful, as you will know what your employer expects you to achieve after starting. It will also show your interviewer that you are the type of person who plans ahead and works towards clear goals in an organised manor: a desirable trait in a potential new employee!

7.) What do you think are the most important qualities needed to excel in this job?

Asking this can give you an invaluable insight to what the expectations are for not only the role, but the team you will be working within as well. You will most likely glean information that is not in the job description and this can then help you to further show that you are a strong fit.

8.) Could you describe what the company culture is like?

It is one thing to know that you are a good fit for the company in terms of skillset and experience, but it is also important to know that it is a good match for you on a personal level as well. Try and gain an understanding of whether you will be happy and comfortable with the dynamic and the culture of the business, so you know that both you and they will be a good fit across the board.

9.) What concerns would you have about progressing my application further?

This is a very direct question that not everyone will feel completely comfortable and confident in asking, but in the majority of situations, your interviewer will both appreciate and respect your direct approach. By identifying any concerns they may be having, you can take appropriate measures to target them and try to dispel any doubts. Even if you end up being unsuccessful overall, having an answer to this question will help you to improve moving forward.

10.) What is the standard route of progression for someone in this role?

Asking this will give you some insight as to whether the company generally tends to promote from within and how internal advancement works. It will show your interviewer that you have a genuine interest in growing and developing within the company and that you are seeking something long-term. Just be careful that you don’t phrase it in a way that could make you sound arrogant! (So don’t ask when you can expect a promotion and a raise!).

Remember: this is the part of the process where the power exchanges hands and is now held at least partially by you. Ideally, by the time you leave the room, they should have a great overall impression of you and you of them.

Interviewing can be stressful and it is not always easy to know how to respond to every situation you are faced with. For further advice on preparing for and dealing with different interview scenarios, you can download our FREE e-Book.

Tags: Candidate, Interview advice, Interview Training, new opportunities, Job, Potential employers, Candidates, Question, Employer, interviews, job search advice, candidate advice, interview, assign Jenny Hargreaves

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