So what is the etiquette around interviewees asking questions? And if it is OK, how do you know what to ask?
Actually, interviewers welcome some comeback from potential employees. They wouldn’t bother asking if they didn’t; with any number of interviews to get through, every unnecessary interaction is wasted time. And besides, they can learn a lot from your response.
So let’s look at the way to play this one correctly. The trick, as ever, is to find the middle ground: Be confident without being arrogant; be inquisitive without appearing not to have a full grasp of the position on offer; be keen without displaying over-arching ambition. Above all, be respectful and positive.
There are plenty of incisive questions which can give your hiring chances a final boost. Here are some of the best:
- What are the top priorities over the next three months for the person in this role?
- You are signalling that you want to hit the ground running – that you want to know what’s expected of you and that your aim is to match or better that.
- What training opportunities do you offer?
- A classic question. This underlines your interest in improving your skills and adding further value to the organisation.
- Is there scope for promotion?
- Another secure favourite. This question displays your determination to make progress and your readiness to commit to the organisation over the longer term.
- How does the role relate to the overall structure of the organisation?
- Here you are showing your preference for teamwork. It looks as though you want to know where you would fit in and how your contribution would affect the rest of the company.
- How would you describe the work culture?
- You are telling the interviewer that you want to operate at your optimum and that you will thrive in a positive environment. This indicates you're a good self-manager who is aware of how to get the best out of yourself.
- What are the most enjoyable and the least enjoyable aspects of the job?
- This shows you like to know the challenges you will face and that you like to be totally prepared, though you are confident of being able to meet them.
- Can you tell me how performance is measured and reviewed?
- This shows you appreciate the importance of delivering real results. You will be seen as someone who understands the value of commitment, reliability and returns.
- What are the crucial issues you think the organisation is facing?
- You are interested in both the job and the employer. It will be apparent you have done some research, done some thinking, and are now eager to hear their analysis.
- May I tell you a little more about my particular interest in communicating with clients/developing new ideas/implementing better systems?
- This is a cheeky and obvious way of getting permission to blow your own trumpet, but after all, that’s what this interview is about.
- Do you have any doubts about whether I am suited to this position?
- A more confident way of emphasising some of your strengths. It suggests you are open to constructive criticism and willing to learn from the experience of others. It also gives you a real chance to address any weaknesses the interviewer may think you have. And crucially, it lets you re-state why you think you are the right person.