When the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions for me?”, your answer better be “YES!”

Bailey Stewart spent three days preparing for her interview. She practiced mock interview questions with her career counselor, had her best suit dry cleaned, spent $100 on her hair and nails, and arrived ten minutes early. Bailey even brought notes, project examples, and a few quantifiable results for the hiring manager.

The interview started with a bang — but ended with a bomb. What happened? The hiring manager asked Bailey if she had any questions for them. She said no and rushed out the door. Her mistake: She spent countless hours preparing for their questions, without considering a few questions to ask an interviewer. Many candidates forget companies want proactive team members who bring something to the table. They're not interested in workers who will simply perform well. Don't make Bailey's mistake. Impress the hiring manager at your next interview with these top five questions to ask at the end.

1. What do you expect from team members in this position?

Job descriptions often are nothing more than marketing jargon used to peak interest in a position, and sometimes the intricate requirements are neglected. Asking this question in an interview helps you determine what you're going to be doing and what is expected of you. Hiring managers expect and respect these questions. Asking them to explain the job requirements in detail shows you care about the position, like to know all the facts before making a decision, and have the courage to ask the difficult questions.

2. Will those expectations change over time?

This follows similar thinking in the previous question. This is a good follow-up question because it helps make sure you understand what you're getting yourself into and the future potentials. Keep your ears open. Many hiring managers will hedge the question, repeat previous answers, or give bland, generalized statements. It's not that they don't want to answer your questions; they probably don't want to give you the upper hand during salary negotiations. If they are reluctant to answer truthfully, make a mental note to revisit during salary discussions.

3. What is a typical day like at [company name]?

Asking about operations and learning the “lay of the land” shows your dedication to the company and attention to detail. Hiring managers often will start by explaining basic schedules, events, and projects. Don't expect — or push for — detailed explanations about clients and projects. They still have to protect intellectual property. Focus more on the company's culture, atmosphere and the people. Ask about newsletters, company picnics, and other initiatives meant to bring the company together. Executives love to brag about their connection with the team, so they should be happy to answer this question.

4. Where do you see the company in five years?

This question serves two purposes. First, we all want stability, and the hiring manager's answer will serve to tell you just how stable the company is. Who wants to work for an organization that will lay off team members in the near future? Asking this question also tells the interviewers you care about the company and want to build a lasting relationship. Hiring managers aim to hire long-term candidates who are willing to stick around for more than a couple of years.

5. What are the next steps in the job process?

Asking about the next steps shows you are optimistic and want the job. Hiring managers appreciate a good sense of self-esteem. Just don't seem too eager, as over-confidence may translate as arrogance. Asking about the next steps also helps with determining the follow-up protocols and prevents you from worrying whether it's too soon to check back in.

How do I choose the best questions to ask in an interview?

While these are prime examples of questions to ask an interviewer, it by no means represents an exhaustive list of interview questions. Feel free to come up with a few questions on your own. Here are a few suggestions to help you build a competent and informative list:

  • The job: Ask the interviewer questions about the specific position. The hiring manager should be willing to explain what you are being hired to do. Don't just ask them to repeat items listed in the job role description. Instead, ask questions about items you didn't understand or weren't listed.
  • The requirements: Along those same lines, make sure you're ready for the position. Ask them about the starting date and what is required before you are hired. Inquire about special training or equipment you will need, especially since some companies require new hires to participate in a week-long class to prepare them for their new role.
  • The company: Job expectations and requirements are two primary discussion points, but you still need to understand the company before taking on the job. Learn about who you're working for. Make sure you have a basic knowledge of the company first, and only ask questions when the answers are not easily found online.
  • The people: Hiring managers and employers are more than happy to expound on the qualities and happiness of their team members. Ask detailed questions about the type of people you will work with, but don't focus too much on personalities. The hiring manager may assume you only are comfortable with like-minded individuals. Determine whether you will work in a team or individually.
  • The atmosphere: Most companies offer programs for their team members. Executives want their team to be happy, healthy, and productive. Ask the hiring manager about special benefits not mentioned in the job description. Does the company have a program promoting healthy living? What special events are typically scheduled for holidays? Does the company offer “suggestion boxes” or encourage open ideas and contributions?

Be considerate of the hiring manager

Time is valuable, especially when you are a hiring manager or employer juggling more than 20 job interviews each week. Don't waste their time with frivolous conversation or questions. Research the company, job, competition, and market before arriving for the interview. Ask fresh questions, which means you shouldn't ask for information easily found on the company's “About Us” page. Hiring managers interpret these redundant questions as you not doing your homework. They want candidates to ask stimulating questions and prove they care about the company and the position instead.

On the other hand, keep in mind the time constraints. Your first interview question always should be about time “I have a couple of questions for you. But I don't want to keep you from your obligations. How much time do we have?” This shows respect and consideration. If the interviewer informs you they are pressed for time, limit your questions to the information you really need to know (i.e. specific hiring requirements, the next steps, and salary and benefits).

When it comes to the interview, you need to be prepared. That's where our TopInterview coaches come in! Learn more about TopInterview today.

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