The most effective questions you should ask in interview

Published: 25 Jan 2016 By Stephanie Sparrow

Freelance - Asking Questions

If you are currently preparing for a job interview, you are probably thinking through the questions which the interviewer is likely to ask you, and maybe even dreading a couple of tricky ones.

Flightglobal Jobs offers plenty of advice about the types of questions which you could be asked but, in turn, it is crucial to prepare questions which you can ask the interviewer.

Some interviewees worry that asking questions will imply that you are naïve or ill-informed. Far from it; some well-prepared questions will show that you are keen to take the job (recruiters always cite lack of enthusiasm as a top reason for rejecting candidates), will help convey your suitability for the role, and create a picture in the mind of the interviewer that you fit the corporate culture.

 “It is very important to ask questions, because an interview is a two-way conversation”, says career expert Lynn Williams.

“You are there to see if you fit the role, and to do this you need to find out about the job”, says Williams, author of “Ultimate Interview” (published by Kogan Page).

Williams explains that the most effective questions which interviewees can ask are compiled from their prior research into the role and the company, and so show an understanding of what the job requires.

“For example, you could say “I have x and y skills. I am looking for the opportunity to use, or enhance them. Do you see this job as somewhere I could do that?”

A question like that is a subtle way of pointing out your value to the recruiter. “It is a way of pointing out that your experience could be a boon to their organisation”, says Williams.

At recruitment specialists AeroProfessional, director Sam Sprules agrees that interviewee questions are beneficial.

“They can enable a candidate to get a better understanding of the role they are applying for, and also help them stand out for the right reasons in an interview”, he says.

 Sprules shares five key questions (and the thinking behind them), to ask in interview:

1.What attributes would make up your perfect applicant? 

Some interviewers will be more open than others and might share qualities such as ‘committed’, ‘loyal’ or ‘flexible’, and if they do, you can tailor your answers to meet their requirements.

2. What is the biggest issue facing your operation, and would I be in a position to help you solve it? 

This shows that you are immediately thinking about the needs of the business and how you can assist in delivering results. It also encourages the employer to envision you working in the position.

3. What are the career development opportunities and how will my success be measured? 

Employers want people who are serious about their careers for many reasons; success breeds success, commitment, improved attrition levels, reduced costs, etc. This question demonstrates seriousness, and the response will either reassure you of a solid career path, or warn you that development opportunities are rare.

4. Can you tell me about the team I would be working with?

As well as inferring to the interviewer that you would get the job, the answer to this question also tells you about the type of people you will interact with on a daily basis.

5. What can you tell me about the company’s ambitions and growth strategies?

Do your homework about the employer beforehand. At interview mention its latest activities such as the launch of a new service in order to demonstrate your research and interest. Meanwhile take note that the answer to the question will give you a good idea of where the employer is headed.

These are all questions which should bring positive answers. However, sometimes a tricky moment can occur. At these times the interviewee needs to be brave, and ask rather bold questions in order to confront a potential obstacle to being offered or accepting the role.

For these occasions Sprules suggests you ask: “Does anything about my CV or interview cause you to doubt my suitability?” He explains that this forces the employer to be honest  rather than leaving you to suffer in silence, because it gives you a chance to immediately tackle any concerns they might have.  

Sprules also recommends asking: “What is the next stage?” He says that this shows that you are keen to progress, and that you are confident you will be considered. “It might also give you an insight into any other competition for the role”, he says.

And finally, if you feel that the interview has stalled into awkward silence, Sprules suggests asking: What do you enjoy most about working for this organisation?” He explains: “This question will hopefully open up the interviewer, make them warmer”, adding that it will also indicate how good the company is to work for.

“If they pause for too long, or can’t answer the question, it could make you wonder about the company”, he says.

As Sprules and Williams point out, it is always worth taking questions into an interview.

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