Interview Questions to Ask Employers (and Those to Avoid)

No matter whether your job interview is one-to-one, with a panel, or a group, there should always come a point towards the end, when you are invited to ask your own questions of the interviewer.

Always, always, always take this opportunity, because having a list of interview questions to ask employers:

  1. Shows that you are genuinely interested in the position and in the organization.
  2. Shows that you care about your career.
  3. Gives you a further opportunity to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in your field.
  4. Lets you demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the position and the company in advance of the interview.
  5. Gives you a chance to develop a sense of rapport with the interviewer in what is typically a more relaxed stage of the interview.

Many employers/recruiters actually frown upon candidates who don’t ask their own questions at the end of an interview, so it would be a mistake to see this as something which is optional.  Do, however, think carefully beforehand about the interview questions to ask employers, because if what comes out of your mouth are enquiries such as “What exactly does your company do?”, “How soon will I get promoted?” or “Are you going to carry out a background check?” then you can bet your bottom dollar that your application isn’t going any further.  Ask the interviewer something that has already been discussed or anything personal, or mention money, transfers or the availability of other jobs in the organization and your fate will also be sealed before you leave the room.

So, if asking your own questions during an interview  is so important but there are all these no-go areas, just what are you supposed to ask?  Here are a few ideas for interview questions to ask employers, to get you started:

  • What would a typical day/week/month in this role look like?  Not only will this help you to clarify the tasks and responsibilities of the role that you are applying for and the expectations of the company, but it will also give you a good idea as to how much variety the position offers.
  • What type of training and induction do you provide?  This will help you to gauge whether you will be expected to hit the ground running or whether the employer has a plan or process in place for introducing you into the role more gradually.  It will also give you an idea of how committed the organization is to the development of its staff.
  • What would success look like in this role?  This is a really important question in terms of understanding the company’s expectations of the roleholder and asking it will give you the opportunity to assess whether you think your skills and experience would be a good match.
  • Who would I be working with?  Clearly this will give you a feel for whether you would be working alone or as part of a small, medium or large team.  The response to this question should tell you whether there will be other people that you can learn from or whether you are going to have to be more self-sufficient.
  • How would my performance be assessed?  If the answer you get to this question suggests that there is no proper performance appraisal process in place, you might just want to walk away, or at the very least consider your position carefully.  People who work for businesses that don’t have formal processes in place for evaluating their staff often suffer from a lack of professional development, not to mention being exposed to the arbitrary whims of their managers.
  • What type of challenges do you expect the department to face during the coming year?  This is one of the interview questions to ask employers, which will not only give you some useful clues in terms of what you could be up against should you take the position on, but it will also tell whether the organization is a forward-thinking one or not.

As you can see, there is absolutely no reason to sit there in silence when an interviewer invites you to pose questions of your own and there are many extremely revealing questions that you can ask.  Do prepare the interview questions to ask employers in advance though, and don’t rely on your memory.  It’s far too easy for all those great questions to completely escape you when nerves have got the better of you, so write them down and take them with you to the interview.

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