You’re at the point in the interview when the hiring manager turns to you and says, “Do you have any questions?”  If you’ve ever found yourself looking back with that deer-in-the-headlights expression mumbling something about how you think they covered everything, you’re not alone.  It’s not unusual for job seekers to prepare for an interview by focusing on how they’re going to answer questions – not what questions they’re going to ask.

In addition to missing out on a golden opportunity to gather information about a prospective employer, lack of preparation in this area may indicate to the interviewer that you’re not a serious candidate. Having a few strategic questions jotted down demonstrates that you have done your research and that you have a real interest in their company.

Your questions should indicate your interest in the company and what you can contribute, while providing you the information you need to make a decision about whether or not this company is a good fit for you. If you don’t get a complete or clear answer, encourage your interviewer to elaborate.  Here are some examples:

  • Tell me about the major initiatives for the team/company this year.
  • What’s the biggest hurdle or barrier facing the team?
  • In my first ninety days of employment, what is my top priority?
  • How did this position come to be available? Can you elaborate on employee turnover or company growth?
  • What’s the tenure of other team members? Of the leadership team?
  • How frequently are new positions filled from within the organization?
  • Tell me more about your company culture, work/life balance.
  • Tell me about the tools provided to help me do my job.

Avoid “What’s in it for me?” questions. These are best saved for HR, often after you’ve been offered the position. Steer clear of questions like this:

  • What does it pay?
  • When am I eligible for a raise?
  • Am I eligible for overtime?
  • Do I have to work weekends?
  • Can I start at 8:45 instead of 8:00?
  • How much vacation/sick time will I get?
  • Can I leave early on Fridays?

Wondering how your interview questions will be perceived? Try them out here! Post in the comments, and let’s talk about it!