5 Questions To Ask the Interviewer

by Andrew Ysasi, MS

Interviewing is stressful enough.  Preparing to answer typical interview questions is a good practice, but what about questions to ask the interviewer?  I have interviewed many candidates, and a majority have said they do not have any additional questions.  I am not sure if it is anxiety, stage fright, or the candidate does not know what to ask.  Note, this post is not about prepping for an interview in general; it is about identifying the top five questions you should ask when the interviewer asks you, “Do you have any questions?” after they have asked you their set of questions.  Hopefully, these five questions will help you land your next gig, and at the end of the article, I have a tip for interviewers.

  1. What is the future of the company?

Always good to start with a question the interviewer expects.  The answer will likely be positive, and more mature organizations may touch on a maturity model.  Don’t be surprised if they do not get too specific, considering some of the information may be sensitive or confidential.  Last, unless you are being hired to assist with downsizing or restructuring, anything negative should be a red flag.

  1. Is this a new role or was this position held by someone previously?

Unless this information was disclosed in questions they asked, it is good to understand if you are replacing a previous employee.  If you are, it would be good to know how long they held the position, and ask why a change occurred.  Further, if this is a new position, you may have more flexibility for learning.

  1. What are the characteristics of the organizations best worker?

Questions like this open the door for them to share what they feel makes a great worker.  Punctuality, dependability, loyalty, efficiency, accuracy, and a positive attitude are good examples of highly valued characteristics.

  1. If you were in charge, what would you change?

Often you are not meeting with the CEO or the Chairman of the Board so the interviewer may have their opinions on what could change.  Depending on how they answer this question, be sure to ask them why they feel the way they do.  It is amazing what you can find out about a company when you talk to their employees directly, and this may be your only chance to talk to an employee face-to-face.  They may not be completely open to you to protect confidentiality, but you should get a good read on whether their recommended change is coming from a negative or positive background.

  1. What are the next steps, and when do you wish to have this position filled?

Always a good idea to know what is coming next.  Asking when the interviewer plans to have the position filled ensures you have an idea of the hiring timeline, and whether that timeline will work for you.

Do lessons learned from the interview, talk to a mentor, take notes, and most of all, reach out to the interviewer and thank them for taking the time to talk to you.

Did I miss a question?  Anything you would like to add?  Tell us your story!

Interviewer Tip:  If you are an interviewer, take the five questions above and have a candidate ask you three of the five if they answered “no” to the “Do you have any questions?” question.  What questions they pick can tell you what is important to the candidate.  

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