Recruiters Explain What to Ask at the End of Your Job Interview
If there is one question you can certainly expect to be asked during an interview, it’s simply this:
“Do you have any questions for us?”
At this point, you may breathe a sigh of relief that the interview is coming to a close, but it’s not over just yet!
“Even if you don’t feel you need more information, asking questions demonstrates that you’re engaged and interested in the interview,” said Darrell Rosenstein, the Founder of the Rosenstein Group, a recruiting firm specialising in software development.
Why Asking Questions is Not Optional
Rosenstein explained that “the most important reason [to ask questions] is to gain info about the job and company so that you can make a more informed decision about whether they’re a good fit.
“It also shows that you’re thinking critically about the job [and] not simply willing to accept whatever job that comes along - which you don’t want the recruiter to know, even if that’s the case.”
“You can only get so much information from searching the web or from employees of the company,” noted Ben Lamarche, General Manager of the Lock Search Group.
If you are working with an external recruiter, “you have the opportunity to leverage a third-party opinion - although it is slightly biased - and you need to take it,” Lamarche said.
“Questions are also critical so that you can best set your expectations about the job in terms of the timeline and necessary qualifications as well as to how to prepare for your interview with the company.”
10 Questions to Ask During an Interview
Here are ten questions recruiters we spoke to said they were particularly impressed by:
1) What does your idea of the perfect candidate for this position look like?
According to Rosenstein, this question is “an easy catch-all way to get more information about the required skills and cultural fit.
“I was impressed by both the efficiency and the content of this question. It showed the candidate was thinking about the needs of the position and company and whether they’d meet them.”
2) What does success look like in this role and how do you define it?
This question “shows the candidate is performance-driven and cares about success in this job,” said Marja Verbon, Founder of Jump, a UK & EU job recommendation platform.
By asking this question, you’ll also gain insight into how your performance will be evaluated, which can provide clues into what your day-to-day role will entail.
3) What are the opportunities for growth at this organisation?
“This [question] makes it seem like you have long-term plans for a particular job,” explained Anjela Mangrum, Founder of Mangrum Career Solutions and a Certified Personnel Consultant.
“The more you're willing to grow with a company, the better your chances of getting a position there."
4) What do you think is the biggest challenge the company faces and how is it addressing it?
This question showed Lamarche that “the candidate was doing some excellent background research to not only better understand the company but also to try to find a clever solution that she could bring up during the interview.”
5) What is your favourite thing about working at this company?
“So many candidates forget I work at my company as well, so this [question] is always refreshing to hear,” said Verbon.
“It shows an interest in me, the job and the company."
6) Why are you hiring for this position?
“The answer is different for every business, but it gives you general insight into how a company is growing and that the hire will help address areas of growth,” explained Dana Case, Director of Operations at MyCorporation.
“The answer will always give the candidate excellent insight into the business and its growth.”
7) How would you describe the work culture at this company?
“While it's a pretty common question, I appreciate it if you ask since a full-time job position will be like your home away from home,” said Mangrum.
“Knowing about the dress code, work ethic, official hours and overtime and lunch breaks can tell you a lot about whether you'll be able to settle well in a workplace.”
8) What happened to the last person who held the role?
“Knowing what happened to your predecessor can also tell you a lot about the organisation’s culture,” said Paul French, Managing Director of Intrinsic Search, a recruitment firm for enterprise SaaS executives.
“You can get a sense of what the boss and your future colleagues are like, the day-to-day of working at the company, promotion opportunities and how the employer generally treats their employees.
“All of these are important considerations when determining whether a job is a right fit,” he explained.
“[This question] showed that the candidate really wanted to learn about the position and find out how she can succeed in that particular role and what mistakes to avoid.”
9) Who does this position supervise? Who does it report to?
While this question may seem like an obvious one to ask, Benjamin Farber, President & Owner of Bristol Associates, says that many candidates do not.
You want to have a clear understanding of who you’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis. Ideally, you’ll also meet the team throughout the hiring process to help you determine whether you would mesh well.
10) What do the next steps and the hiring timeline look like?
Such questions “are impressive because they demonstrate a candidate’s ability to project and prepare for the position,” said Farber.
If you know what the hiring timeline looks like, you’ll also be able to reach out to check on your status at an appropriate time.
The Right Number of Questions to Ask
“There is a fine line between showing interest and seeming desperate,” Farber explained.
“Ask questions within the flow of the conversation. Be sure to listen and digest the answer before you respond, even if there is a follow-up question. A one-sided conversation or interruption is usually not met with praise.”
Generally, you can expect that a recruiter has allotted between 10-15 minutes for you to ask questions.
James Baker, CEO of Keynote Search, said that “you can likely ask 2 or 3 big questions about culture, the team, expectations for success or 6-7 quick-fire questions which are based on facts tied to the position.”
For Baker, the ideal number of questions to ask “depends on whether I can see they have done research or not.
“If someone has not looked into the company and spent at least 30-45 minutes researching the opportunity or has no questions, then I won’t consider them for the role,” he mentioned.
“It typically means they are a potential flight risk to my client because they aren’t motivated by the opportunity and what it means for them and their career.”
“Candidates who are serious about their careers will always treat interviews as two-way conversations where they have the opportunity to evaluate the employer and the position to determine whether it fits with their values and goals,” explained French.
“Asking the right questions also shows that you are knowledgeable, that you care about the position you are interviewing for and that you are not just after a job.
“Not asking questions can come off as you lacking critical thinking skills and that you are happy to take things as they are instead of questioning and thinking outside the box.”
French also noted that “this kind of passiveness has no place in today’s workplace where employers are looking for people who can think critically, identify trends and provide solutions to pressing problems."
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