interview questions
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Switching Roles: What to Ask the Interviewer

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I tend to stumble when an interviewer asks if I have any questions. I know enough not to ask about benefits, compensation, or vacation days, but can you suggest some good questions to ask to make a good impression?

A: Before an interview, job seekers usually focus on preparing for the questions the interviewer will ask. But it’s also important to have a few insightful questions prepared to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers want you to ask questions, and your questions will be evaluated.

As you research the organization before your interview, take time to think about what you need to know to decide whether this is a place you want to work. Remember, it’s as important for you to like them as for them to like you.

Here are some questions you might ask a recruiter or anyone else you meet during the recruiting process:

  • Tell me about the culture here.
  • What is the average length of service for employees?
  • Why is this position open at this time?
  • Why isn’t the position being filled by someone from inside the organization?
  • Why did you choose to work here?
  • Tell me about the organization’s structure and leadership.
  • What are the greatest challenges facing this organization over the next year or so?

As you research the organization before your interview, take time to think about what you need to know to decide whether this is a place you want to work.

These are good questions to ask the person who would be your manager:

  • Tell me about your managerial style.
  • If I am selected for this position, what would be my greatest challenges?
  • Can you tell me what a typical day would be like?
  • What does success look like in this position?
  • What are the skills and traits of someone who would be successful in the job?
  • With whom would I be working the most closely?
  • How do you see me benefiting the organization?
  • How is performance measured here?
  • Are there other job duties not mentioned in the job posting?
  • After I prove myself to be a good contributor, are there opportunities for training and development and, down the road, promotion?
  • When do you expect to make your hiring decision?
  • May I call you if I have additional questions?

You won’t be able to ask all these questions during the interview, but select a few that will yield the additional information you need to determine organizational fit and will help you impress the interviewer.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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