You probably spend a lot of time prepping for job interviews.
But it’s not just about being ready with answers to the interviewer’s questions. The process is a two-way street: You should come prepared with insightful questions to learn more about the role and to make sure the company is a good fit.
“Asking questions during a job interview is a way of showing engagement in the conversation and telegraphing your interest in the position,” said Dorie Clark, author of “Entrepreneurial You.” “If you just respond to the question posed, you seem very passive and that is not necessarily a trait employers want.”
The key to asking questions that will impress is doing your research and listening.
Ask about current events
Be sure to read the latest press releases, news articles and social media posts from and about the company before heading into the interview and ask relevant questions based on this information.
For instance, if there’s a recent news story about the company’s Chinese operations, Clark said asking something like: I noticed the company had a big roll out in China, I am curious, how do you think the Hong Kong protests will affect it?”
“It shows you are paying attention and aware of current events and you are in interested in the big pictures, trends and strategy,” said Clark.
Ask what it’s like to work there
Companies are looking to woo candidates in this job market and want to put their best foot forward — but it’s important that you go into the conversation knowing what you are looking for from an employer.
Create a list of your non-negotiables and keep it in mind when asking questions.
Asking what a typical day looks like can give you a helpful sense of the workplace balance and responsibilities.
“It gives an opportunity to learn more about how the company works, what priorities a manager sees for your day and whether that aligns with you,” said Shari Santoriello, a career specialist at career and leadership coaching company Ama la Vida.
To get a sense of the corporate culture, Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of global human resources at Indeed, suggested asking: How would you describe the culture here?
He added that if you pose this question to every person you interview with, you can see if any common themes emerge or if each person seems to have a different experience — which could be a red flag.
To help get more personal insight into what it’s like working at the company, Clark suggested asking: What would you say is the downside about this position or working for the company?
“Every job has a downside and you need to know if you can live with them,” she said.
Ask about career growth and development
We all want to work at a place where we have the opportunity to grow professionally. But be careful with how you ask this question. You don’t want to come off as if you are expecting a promotion before even starting the job.
Try asking: “What does the career path look like for this role?” suggested Wolfe.
Asking about employee support and development programs can also show how much an employer invests in employee development.
“I always like to ask what the employee support programs look like … and how I can be involved,” said Santoriello. “This shows you are a perpetual learner interested in bringing more value to the company.”
Ask how to be successful
Knowing how your performance is going to be measured is important so be sure to ask about it.
To help get a sense of what employers will be looking for, try asking something like: “What does success look like for someone in this role?” or “How will my performance be evaluated?”
“It’s good to understand what they are going to be focused on and whether that is something you are going to be comfortable with and will resonate with you,” said Wolfe.
Ask spontaneous questions
While most interviewers will wrap up the meeting asking if you have any questions, you don’t have to wait for that moment.
“You want to make sure you are always dialoguing,” said Santoriello.
If the interviewer says something interesting or vague, ask a question to get more detail. That not only shows you are listening, but also engaged and want to learn more.
Just make sure your timing is right when asking questions and avoid interrupting. “Don’t take them off track,” said Barry Drexler, an interview coach. “Don’t take control of the interview.”
And don’t ask questions that you can easily find online or to try and show off your knowledge.
“Only ask genuine questions,” said Drexler. “I’ve had so many candidates ask questions trying to impress me with their smartness…they aren’t listening. Ask questions to something you need to know to make a decision.”