Having a good set of questions for a prospective employer can either make or break your presentation. Often it is a section of interview groundwork that is overlooked – the pressures of company research, CV preparation and so on can take precedence. However, a strong set of challenging, pertinent questions can really help bring your interview up to speed. You may be one of many interviews that day: if your questions show that you have seriously thought about the role and researched your subject then they can set you apart from the competition.
More importantly, your questions give you the chance to find out what YOU want to know – an interview is a two-way conversation.
More questions than answers…?
Keep the questions relevant. Base them on your research and on any issues that arise during your discussion. To this end it is worth keeping a notebook handy to jot down any questions as they come up – it also shows that you’ve come prepared. Furthermore, if your research throws up any queries before the interview, write them down before you go in, and address them in turn.
Stay away from the mundane. Asking questions about lunch breaks or whether the coffee machine does hot chocolate won’t do you any favours. Make sure they are businesslike and relevant. They can reasonably be quite tricky, especially if your research has brought up something that you’d like clarifying (e.g. profit warnings, rumours of take-overs and acquisitions, expansion plans etc).
Away from your research you’ll want to ask about the company and role. Here are just a few ideas of areas to explore:
* How did the role come about?
* Is there a training or probationary period?
* What is staff turnover like? Why?
* What sorts of career prospects are there within the organisation?
* What kind of training opportunities are available?
It is also an opportunity to clarify issues that may have been raised earlier in your discussion, such as scope of the role, benefits etc. Remember, you don’t have to ask all the questions you might have, but you’ll kick yourself later if you don’t ask the ones you really wanted to get answers to.