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What are the best questions to ask during an interview?

by Sellick Partnership | 21 September 2020

When attending a job interview, it is only natural to be focused primarily on the questions you will be asked, and making sure that you are able to provide the interviewer with answers that give them a strong impression of your capabilities. However, it is important to remember that the direction of the questioning should not only be one-way.

A job interview is not only an opportunity for an employer to get to know you; it should also be seen as a chance for you as a candidate to find out more about a prospective employer, and to figure out whether or not the company is able to offer what you will need to be happy and successful in the role. A positive working relationship needs to be mutually satisfying, and the interview represents a first opportunity to establish that dynamic.

As such, when entering an interview, you should come prepared with a few questions of your own, in order to demonstrate that you are fully engaged with the process and thinking proactively about how best to succeed in the job for which you are applying.

Here, we examine some of the best questions you can ask in an interview as a candidate to find out all you need to know.

“What does a typical day look like here?”

This is a straightforward question to ask, but is nevertheless extremely useful in giving you a clearer impression of what you could expect your day-to-day responsibilities to be in this new role. The interviewer’s response will tell you much about the ebb and flow of everyday life at the company, as well as highlighting potential challenges and opportunities for you to excel.

In addition, asking this question will help to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are thinking in pragmatic terms, and that you will be keen to learn about what it takes to succeed.

“What does success look like for this role, and how will you measure this?”

Similar to the previous question, this presents an opportunity for you to find out what the employer would be expecting from you as you settle into the new role over a period of days, weeks and months.

By asking this question, you can get an idea of what your bosses would be looking for you to achieve, how fast they are expecting you to progress, and how you can orient your personal development to hit the targets they have set for you. The interviewer is also likely to appreciate the ambition and forward thinking that this question demonstrates.

“Are there opportunities for training and progression within this role?”

Asking about potential training opportunities is another great way of showing the employer that you are serious about enhancing your skills and developing beyond your current capabilities.

Of course, you are also sure to be interested in the answer from the perspective of your own personal development as well. This question will help you learn whether or not you will be entering into a dynamic role that can grow and change as your skills expand, and will give you an insight into how you can keep moving forward with your career within the company.

“How do you look to staff to represent corporate values?”

Corporate values often seem like a somewhat abstract principle, so it is useful to take time to find out more about how they actually affect workers on the ground. After all, finding the right cultural fit is just as important as simply evaluating credentials and salary rates.

By asking this question, you will be able to learn how formal or relaxed the working environment is, or learn if there are any exceptional expectations placed on staff that you may need to know about. This will help you make a more informed decision about whether or not to pursue the role further.

“What do you enjoy about your job? What’s your favourite part of working here?”

This question allows you to flip the script to a certain degree, prompting the interviewer to share their own first-hand experiences of what it is really like to work for the company. This will tell you a lot about the qualities of the working culture and environment, and how the company’s stated principles work in practice.

It is important to pay attention to your interviewer’s response to a question like this; if they seem to find it difficult to give you a positive account of their working lives, this will tell you a lot about the company that you might not otherwise have learned.

“Can you tell me more about the team or colleagues I would be working with?”

It is hard to know whether you will fit in with a company’s existing staff without knowing anything about them, which is why it is a good idea to ask about the individuals you are most likely to be paired with if you are given the role.

Not only will this tell you a lot about the team dynamics within the organisation, but it can also reveal details about the structure of the team, the chain of command and their current project focus. All of this information will make it much easier for you to hit the ground running if you are given the chance to join the team.

“Are there any other questions I can answer about myself?”

With this question, you can invite your interviewer to bring up any other questions that might still be on their mind. It may be a good idea for you to prompt them to address any lingering areas of uncertainty they have about your application, giving you a chance to provide a conclusive answer.

By asking this question, you can also demonstrate that you are not afraid of being questioned, rather than giving any impression that you are keen to get the interview over with as soon as possible.

“What are the next steps?”

This final question is always helpful, if only from a purely practical point of view. At the close of the interview, you should make sure the interviewer has everything they need from you, and that you have an idea about the timeline of when to expect a response.

By closing off with this question, you can get a clearer idea of when you will hear back, and when a final decision will be made – as well as showing the interviewer that you are keen for the process to continue.

Naturally, you will not necessarily need to ask every one of these questions to get the most out of your interview. However, by asking the right ones when appropriate, you can make sure that both candidate and interviewer come away from the experience with a better, clearer understanding of what each party has to offer the other.