Finding strong questions to ask in a job interview can leave a good impression on a future employer. Image: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels
When you hear the words ”Do you have any questions you would like to ask me?” it’s a sure sign your interview is coming to an end. But don’t be fooled, it is far from over yet. Now is the time to take control of the conversation and ask your interviewer a few things you genuinely would like to know. It is a great chance to stand out from the crowd and get a better idea about your potential future employer. It is also probably the last opportunity you have to make an impression.
Top tip number one, whatever you do: don’t say you have no questions, however desperate you may be to leave the room. It’s much better to prepare between three and five questions ahead of time just in case your mind goes blank. Be careful not to ask things which have already been covered to risk looking like you have not been paying attention.
The Big Issue previously asked career coaches Joanne Mallon and John Lees for their best interview advice.
“You could ask about future career prospects – where did the last person who did the job move onto? Or you could ask what a typical day in the job would look like,” suggests Mallon.
Lees adds: “The usual interview advice is ‘just to be yourself’. Keeping things conversational does help, but what you really have to do in an interview is put in a performance.
No need to fake it, but a performance that reveals the best version of you – you on a good day. Prepare to be a slightly more outgoing, positive, more energised version of your everyday self.”
What does a typical day or week in the job look like?
What does it take for someone to be really successful in the role?
What are the biggest challenges of the job?
How do you think this role might change in the next year?
These types of questions give you a chance to get a real idea of what a job would entail and what the company would expect from you. Plus, it is key for you to have a clear idea of what your tasks would be day-to-day to help you decide if you actually want the job.
“Ask about the future of the job, how it’s going to grow and change, and how quickly you will be able to get into your stride,” says Lees. “Ask about important organisational decisions in the pipeline which will affect your job – revealing your extensive homework as well as your strong interest in the role.
Best questions to ask about the company
Can you tell me about any new projects in the pipeline?
What direction do you see the company going in the next few years?
What are the most important company values?
Asking about the future of the company indicates you are excited about the opportunity to work there. Steer away from questions which could be answered with a quick Google.
It is a good idea to go on the company’s website pre-interview to avoid looking like you haven’t done any research. And if a company bangs on about their values on its website, try and ask how this is actually reflected in the workplace. Looking at the company’s social media sites can be good inspiration for coming up with questions to ask in an interview. You could ask them about the event they put on and posted about. It’s cool to be keen.
Best questions to ask about the working environment and progression
Can you tell me about the team I would be working with?
Is the work mainly independent or collaborative?
Can you give me an idea about career progression and advancement within the company?
How often do people work from home/ come into the office?
How would my success and progress be measured?
Asking about progression will indicate you are ambitious. It is good to know if there is a culture of mentoring and career coaching at the company, especially if you are starting out in a junior role.
If working from home is something which has previously been mentioned it might be worth asking about it. Showing you are willing to come into the office usually goes down well though.
Remember to present the positive and outgoing version of yourself, rather than the version who likes to stay home in their pyjamas all day on a Friday.
How has the company changed since you have joined?
What is different about working here than anywhere else you have worked?
As a general rule, people love talking about themselves. These kinds of questions are a good way to build a more personal relationship with the person who’s sitting across the table from you.
Keep it professional and career focussed though, don’t start asking if they are a dog or a cat person (unless you’re going for a job at the vets).
Asking the money question in an interview
Can you tell me about this job’s salary range?
Talking money is always awkward but it needs addressing. It may well be one the question you’re most keen to ask. Some job adverts give no indication of salary, or might just say ‘competitive’. It’s not unreasonable to ask how much you will be paid. Let’s be honest, however passionate you are about the job, you probably wouldn’t be working it nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday, for free.
It’s important to pick your moment. Try not to bring up salary in the first few breaths of the interview, take the time to demonstrate your experience and why you want to work there first. Likewise, try not to make it the only question you ask in an interview.
Make sure you’ve thought through your own salary requirements prior to walking into the interview and do a bit of digging around to research the pay of similar jobs. Glassdoor is a good place to look. As the hiring manager may well bring it up before you and ask how much you have in mind, having a ballpark figure in your mind is key and way better than saying ‘I’m flexible’.
Best questions to wrap the interview up:
What are next steps of interview process
If I was offered this job, Is there anything I can do to improve my skill set in the meantime?
Is there anything else you want to know about me or are unsure about?
Leave these until last, they are a good way of giving the interviewer a chance to clarify some things they are unsure about. Avoid asking if you have got the job there and then, however tempting it may be.
And then you can politely shake hands, thank the interviewer for their time, and head for the door. Well done. It’s over.
Big Issue Group has created the person-centred recruitment service,Big Issue Recruitto support people facing barriers to employment into sustainable jobs. To find out how Big Issue Recruit could help you into employment, or help your business to take a more inclusive approach to recruitment, clickhere.