The end of the interview is a great chance to make a lasting impression by asking insightful questions that take the interviewer by surprise and that other candidates have not asked.
I like to go into interviews with an arsenal of questions. That way I am guaranteed to have something to ask during the conversation or at the end of it. I try to pick 3-5 questions to ask, depending on how the conversation has gone. I print the below list out and bring it with me. There is no shame in not having the questions memorized. I have been collecting great questions to ask interviewers for the last decade or so and would like to share them with you in order of my most favorite to my least favorite.
- I’m even more excited now than I was when I applied. Is there anything that I’ve said, or haven’t said, that makes you think I am not a great fit for the role?(Note: This question should be asked with confidence, not trepidation. This is always the last question that I ask in an interview. Always. To every interviewer. If there has been any miscommunication about what awesome talent you are, this is your chance to put that confusion to rest).
- What is one thing that’s key to being successful in this company that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know?
- How would you describe the company culture, and if you could change one thing about the culture what would it be?
- Who are the heroes in this company and what characteristics do they have in common with one another?
- What are the characteristics of people you have hired in the past, but who have burned out, failed, or left?
- What is my future boss’ leadership style?
- How has the job been performed in the past and what improvements would you like to see the new hire be able to implement?
- How is success measured in this role? What is the performance review policy and how do I make the most of it to ensure that I am doing the best I can for the company?
- What are the group’s best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company?
- What is the rhythm of work here? Is it consistent, or are there periods during the year where there are crunch times and we’re pulling all-nighters?
- Which competitor are you most concerned about?
- How does this role help achieve the strategic goals of the company?
- What do you see ahead for the company in the next five years?
- What do you enjoy most about working here?
- What are the most attractive and least attractive parts of this job?
- What are the key accomplishments you would like to see in this role over the next year?
Please note that not all of these questions may be appropriate for every interview. In some cases, none of them may be appropriate. I have had success with these questions when interviewing in North America. However, they may be off-putting to interviewers based on their cultural background or geographic location. An entirely different set of questions may be better suited if you are interviewing in Asia or in Europe. A special thank you goes out to Merrill Thomson for bringing up this excellent point!
Robin Brodrick is a résumé writer, aspiring minimalist, Douglas Adams fan, and corporate recruiter in the cutthroat biotech and pharma industries. If you’re looking for a new job, or know somebody who is, Robin can help you with that, too. Visit www.talentcounseling.com to learn more. You can also follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn.