Being 100 per cent ready for an interview is essential if you want to win a position. As a candidate, you should take this seriously, putting in as much effort as if studying for an important exam.

One thing is for sure. Whinging it never, ever works. Being prepared helps you look, sound and feel confident.

Normally at the end of an interview you’ll be asked if YOU have any questions. Some candidates are taken aback because they haven’t thought this through so be prepared with a couple of questions so you don’t skip a beat.

Here are tips on:

  • why employers give you a chance to ask questions
  • why it’s important for you to ask questions at the end of your interview
  • types of ‘gold’ questions to ask
  • types of question to avoid asking.

Why do employers give you a chance to ask questions?

Employers do this for two reasons:

  1. Polite way to round out an interview

Interviews tend to be one-way streets. Employers who care about what their staff think would want to demonstrate this by giving you a chance to question them.

  1. Tests your curiosity

Being ready with questions demonstrates you’ve taken time to learn about the organisation and think through job possibilities.

  1. Clarifies who you’ll be working for

Asking questions is a great way to address concerns you may have about who you’ll be working for (the organisation itself or a direct report).

Why it’s important to ask questions at the end of your interview

  1. Demonstrates your interest

Employers like to see candidates who are genuinely interested in the job. Asking questions confidently demonstrates this.

  1. Demonstrates your due diligence

Candidates who have done their research stand out at interview. If you’ve checked out the company website and social media (essential) and can ask a question relating to that content, this shows you’ve done your homework.

  1. Can lead to other questions 

Asking questions keeps the conversation going and gives you more time to showcase your hard and soft skills. It may lead to being asked for more information on yourself, which is positive.

Types of ‘gold’ questions to ask

Questions can relate to the company, its culture and/or the position itself.

Study the company’s website, trawl through their social media and search for them news of them online. Also, check their publications, including their annual report, to get a feel for structure, main role and key priorities.

Sample questions about the company to guide you

  1. How would you describe your company’s culture?
  2. What are the company’s values?
  3. What has been the company’s biggest success to date?
  4. What’s your favourite part about working at the company?
  5. When researching your website, I read you’re looking to expand overseas? What countries are you targeting and why?
  6. I read on your website that you’ve recently won the [name] award. That’s exciting. Can you tell me a little more about that?
  7. I saw in the media that you’re about to open another branch in [location]. What do you see will be the main challenges?
  8. I was fascinated to see on social media that you do a lot of community work, including for [name]. How long have you been supporting them?

Sample questions about the position to guide you

  1. What would be the expectations of me in 1 month, 3 months and 12 months?
  2. What does success look like for this position? How do you measure it?
  3. What type of professional development opportunities does the company offer?
  4. Who would I work most closely with?
  5. What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of the position?
  6. What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
  7. What are the next steps in the interview process?

Sample questions not to ask

  1. Would you consider this role being part-time rather than full-time? [Or vice versa.]
  2. Can I have the option to work a few days from home?
  3. When could I expect a promotion?
  4. When would my salary be reviewed?
  5. What are the expected hours for this position?

Final tips

  1. Avoid ‘yes/no’ questions. Ask open-ended questions instead.
  2. Don’t ask questions you should already know the answer too (such as information already stated in the job description).
  3. Don’t ask questions that make you look arrogant. Example: As you can see, I’m over-qualified for this position. I’m wondering why you selected me for interview?