It’s a good idea to prepare questions that you will ask at the end of a job interview to demonstrate your interest, think strategically, and prove yourself as insightful. Because that is what all job interview advice tells you…
As someone who sits on the other side (interviewing job candidates), I am going to tell you to not always take that piece of advice everyone seems to be sharing.
You know, the interview advice that states “you need to prepare questions to ask at the end of a job interview”. I have no idea where it started or who started it…
But, what I will tell you is that asking questions at the end of a job interview is not required. And, it will not lead to a job interview fail if you don’t ask questions.
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I have had too many clients approach me about what the best questions are to ask so they can prepare for job interviews.
There is a better solution…
Don’t stress and worry about formulating perfect questions that will “make you stand out”.
In this blog post, I will share with you where it is more important to ask questions in your job interview. And, how tricky (unfortunately) it can be to prepare for these questions. And then, at the end of this post, we will talk about what questions to ask “at the end of an interview”. These questions are not to make you look good but rather to help you collect information about whether the job opportunity is the right position for you and your career.
Before we get too into this post, I just want to highlight some other posts that may help you prepare for your next job interview:
- Ace Your Next Job Interview by Mastering the Interview Methods Used by Hiring Managers and Recruiters
- 10 Tips for A Successful Job Interview
Let’s first start with looking at when and who you are going to ask questions to and at what part of the process.
Either a telephone or online interview screen is usually the first interview you will have when discussing a job opportunity. Within a medium to large-sized business, a telephone screen will likely be done by someone in the HR department or someone that they have outsourced this function to. Whether it is a recruiter, a talent acquisition specialist, an intern, or a third-party recruiter, they likely have a standard set of screening questions for you and they might open up the floor to you to ask questions. I am going to say during a telephone screen, it is completely acceptable to not ask any questions. So, don’t fret at this stage of the game.
If you do ask questions, be sure to not ask questions that may make you come off as uninterested and unaware.
Sometimes questions like…
- “Can you tell me more about what the company does?”
- “What would I be expected to do in this job?”
These questions can make you sound uninterested or unaware. Questions worded in such a way can make it appear like you didn’t research the company or review the job description before applying for the job. It might make you appear to be the type of candidate who applies for any and every job they come across.
A company wants to feel like you picked them for a reason. You need to make them believe that you want to work for THEM specifically.
You also want to ensure that you are aware of what the position entails and assure them that you have the exact qualifications they are looking for. By asking the question “what would I be expected to do in this job” demonstrates that you don’t know and understand the expectations of the role. Be sure you dissect the job posting to learn about the job responsibilities every time you apply for a job. I have created a job search tracking spreadsheet to help my clients manage and organize their job search. So they know exactly why they have applied for a job and can track it. It is available for free in my shop.
Again, I wouldn’t worry about asking questions during an initial screen. If you are invited to an in-person interview (or an online video interview with the hiring manager), an expectation is that you’ll have some questions. Again, I don’t know who started this expectation, and not all interviewers expect it. But, unfortunately, some do. Maybe because they also read somewhere that good candidates ask questions at the end of an interview??
Not sure. But let’s look further at this. Let’s look at asking questions during a job interview so you can come out as a top candidate.
Asking Questions in a Job Interview
When it comes to constructing questions, they should show that you understand the role, the company, and the industry. If you ask questions that have already been clearly outlined in either the job posting, on the company website (in plain view), or something an interviewer already reviewed with you in the interview… you may look a little “silly”.
So, it may not work to your advantage to ask questions just for the sake of it…
The best advice I can offer is to ask questions throughout the interview.
Asking Questions Throughout the Job Interview
Focus on asking questions throughout the interview as they come up naturally. Remember an interview is a conversation. So you may ask questions as you go through the interview without it even registering. Questions that come up naturally are usually the best questions that you can ask! Since you don’t know the exact questions they will ask you or what direction the interview will go it’s hard to prepare for this.
Here is my suggestion…
If the opportunity arises, ask a probing question about a project they mention or an initiative the organization is working towards.
The best candidates ask questions that demonstrate that they are intuitive and strategic while discussing the role at hand. The best candidates want to learn more about strategy or organizational operations (as an example). Here’s the thing, the best leaders and problem solvers can ask great questions. So by simply asking the right questions will prove your intuition and demonstrate the competencies that most organizations are looking for. Your ability to think through things and have a conversation about it with them.
In summary, candidates who do this show their ability to be thoughtful, ask questions, and ask the right questions to learn more and add value to the conversation.
Questions to Ask at The End of A Job Interview
I feel like I can’t stress it enough, if you don’t have questions to ask at the end of an interview it won’t make or break your interview. However, I will give you a few questions that you can end with if you feel like you need to learn more about the opportunity you are interviewing for.
These questions will help you interview the hiring manager at the same time they are interviewing you. Because you should be asking questions to determine if the position is the right one for you.
- Can you tell me a bit about your management style?
- How does the (Marketing) team work in collaboration with one another and cross-functionally through the organization?
- What are some of the challenges that I could expect to face in this position?
- Can you tell me about the future of the (Marketing) department and some of the projects that you are excited about?
- Can you give me a glimpse into the company culture at (XYZ Company) and what you specifically love about working here?
- Is there a timeframe that has been determined to let candidates know if they are successful or not?
- Should I be a successful candidate, what are the next steps in the recruitment process?
If you truly don’t feel you have any questions to ask at the end of a job interview and they ask you if you have any questions, state:
“I had questions coming in, but you have been extremely thorough and answered the questions that I originally did have. I appreciate how much information you have given me about the role and the company.”
This will wow them and it will also act as a complement to them and their communication skills. And who doesn’t like a compliment?
So yes, ask questions, prepare questions, but if you don’t ask questions at the end of an interview it won’t lead to an “interview fail”.