If you’ve been through the interview process, you’re likely familiar with this experience: you’ve gotten through the basics of the employer introducing you to the position, and you’ve told your career story through answering questions about your experience, skills and vision for your future. Laying out your qualifications and how you engage in the interview process is part of the Present and Promote stages of the Career Process Model that our Career Coaches use at Richland Library, and in future posts we’ll zoom out to explore more of this model .
At the end of the interview, often there comes the question: “Do you have any questions for us?” When this happens, you’ll want to have a few prepared. How do you know what you should ask? What is OK to inquire about – and what is not? In the sections below, we’ll take a look.
Before the interview, prepare for this question
Well before the interview, during your research of the organization, put together a list of questions. If the format of the interview allows, ask questions as they come up in conversation as well. This is a way to show engagement and interest in the interview process, as well as showing that you’ve done your homework on the organization.
Ask questions about: The position and day-to-day responsibilities
One area of questions that are helpful to ask are further clarifications on your day-to-day role within the department or organization. As mentioned above, these clarifying questions can help demonstrate your interest in the position and your engagement during the interview process. It can also give you an idea of whether the position will be a good match for your experience, skills and interests. Examples of these types of questions could be:
What would a typical day/week look like for a person in this role?
What are the first-year goals for this position?
Is this a new role that has been created, or am I filling an existing position?
Ask questions about: the larger organization and work culture
Beyond just your role, it’s important to know the culture of the larger organization. The culture of the company encapsulates many aspects of working there, including spoken and unspoken practices, expectations, systems of decision-making, and communication. You might be able to glean some of this information from research beforehand, but there may some questions that you still want to ask in the interview to get an insider’s perspective. Some questions you could ask include:
How would you describe the company and team culture?
Is work done in a collaborative or independent setting?
What does success look like in my role/at this organization?
How does employee feedback get incorporated into larger processes/decision-making?
What steps is this organization taking to make sure all its employees feel included and valued?
Ask questions about: next steps
End the interview by conveying a sense of enthusiasm for the opportunity and inquiring about the next steps in the hiring process. It’s also an opportunity to end the interview with a reaffirmation of your enthusiasm for the position. You might inquire about next steps by saying something like:
Our discussion has made me excited about the work and I'd love to join the team if you think I'm a good fit.
When do you expect to make a decision?
Is there anything additional you need from me before you make an offer/decision?
Topics to avoid
There are a few areas to avoid. Broadly speaking, you’ll want to avoid questions about the following areas, as well as questions that give the impression that you are not knowledgeable or not interested in the job. Some of these questions, such as the review process and salary, can be discussed with the employer after an offer is made:
General questions about the job that are answered by the description/posting
Salary, benefits or compensation
Timeline of promotions/raises
Review processes (unless following up on information mentioned by the employer)
In thinking through the questions that you ask, you have the opportunity to show your engagement with the interview process. It will show your interest in the opportunity, and if you’ve done your research on the company, it will make a further impression on the hiring staff. The Q&A portion of the interview gives you another valuable opportunity to present yourself to employers through the kinds of thoughtful, considered questions you can ask.
Looking for more information?
Set up a virtual meeting with one of our certified Career Coaches through the Book a Learning Coach form or by calling 803-929-3400. After you submit, we will contact you to set an appointment. Our team provides help with interviewing skills, your résumé, interest/skills assessments, and more. Follow Richland Library on LinkedIn for career development tips and tidbits.