Picture this: You’re sitting across from a hiring manager during an interview and the conversation is going great. You feel like you’ve formed a genuine connection with the interviewer and you both even share a few laughs over some cheesy, but good-natured jokes. As the discussion winds down, and the hiring manager asks if you have any questions, however, you start babbling incoherently like a middle school kid talking to your crush for the first time.
You start racking your brain for some kind of show-stopping question to throw out there, but all you can think of is asking about the adorable puppy in the picture frame on their desk or the Darth Vader bobblehead giving you a look that says…
Even if you’re someone who can strike up a conversation with just about anyone, when it comes to having a successful interview, what you say and how you say it needs to be delivered in an effective, meaningful way. After all, you wouldn’t want to talk yourself out of landing the job. The last thing you want is to walk away from a great opportunity leaving the interviewer thinking…
One of the most common things job seekers struggle with during their interview is how to answer: “Do you have any questions for me?” On paper, there’s nothing threatening or ominous about the question. But oftentimes, when you’re put on the spot or caught off guard, you find yourself staring at the interviewer like a deer in headlights.
The Wrong Response
Never respond to this question by saying: “No.” The interviewer will interpret this response as a lack of real interest in the position and company. Asking questions is a way to communicate that you’ve invested the time to research the company and are thinking about the role from a long-term perspective. You want to show the hiring manager that you can envision yourself in the role and are interested not only in your day-to-day responsibilities, but the goals they’d like you to meet in 6 months, 1 year, and so on.
When you answer ‘no,’ the hiring manager will hear the following:
“Ugh. I’d rather be watching Netflix then endure another second of this boring interview.”
“Innovation? Yawn. I’m only focused on the present and getting the job done. I’m not interested in contributing to the future success of the company.”
“I don’t care about the job; I’m just looking for a paycheck.”
So, What Should I Be Asking?
In order to paint your candidacy in the best light and gain a competitive edge over other applicants - who are hoping to snag the role from under your feet - you need to ask the right questions. Remember this meeting isn’t all about the hiring manager grilling you. It’s also an opportunity to show a genuine interest in the role and evaluate how well the job fits your needs.
Here are some questions to consider asking:
- What are some of the challenges I may encounter in this role?
- What does a typical day in this position look like? Do you expect the responsibilities of this role to change over the next 6 months or year?
- If I was offered the position and we were sitting here a year from now, what would I have ideally accomplished?
- How will my performance be evaluated?
- How does this role impact the overall success of the company?
- Are there any skills the team is currently missing that you’re looking for in a potential new hire?
- What’s the growth trajectory for this role? Is there a clear-cut path for professional development/gaining more responsibility/being promoted?
- Based on our conversation and my experience, do you think there are any skills I’m lacking that would prevent me from being successful in this role?
- Why is this role currently open and what is your projected time-frame for making a hire?
- What brought you to the company and what do you enjoy most about working here?
- What kind of goals is the company currently focused on? Are there any upcoming expansion plans or new products/services the company will introduce in the near future?
- What is the company culture like? Is the work environment more collaborative or independent?
By asking these types of questions, you will have a solid grasp on what the role entails, how well your experience, values, and work preferences align with the company, whether this position will help you develop professionally, an understanding of the expectations in the role, and if the position fits your career goals.
Before the meeting wraps up, don’t forget to ask the interviewer about next steps and if there’s anything additional you can provide that would be useful in the decision making process. It also never hurts to ask if they prefer to be contacted via phone or email for any follow-up questions that may pop up after your meeting.
Making an Impression
The goal is to walk away from your interview feeling confident and informed without hitting the hiring manager with rapid-fire questions like they’re being interrogated. Make sure the dialog flows as if you were chatting with a friend, and that the questions you pose are meaningful and forward-thinking. Once you’re equipped with detailed information about the job, you can craft a killer ‘thank you’ note following the interview – highlighting why you’re a great fit for the position.