At the interview you want to secure an offer by demonstrating that you are by far and away the best candidate. The invitation from the recruiter to ask questions is a gift. Asking the right questions illustrates your motivation for the post and the research you’ve put in.
Firstly, what not to ask.
- Anything readily available to you beforehand or that you can find on the organisation’s webpages
- The interview is not the place to discuss any aspect of Terms and Conditions. Wait until you are in receipt of a job offer before you ask about benefits, pay etc
- Nothing that infers criticism of the company, or which asks for information the company is not at liberty to disclose such as ‘how many candidates are being considered?’
Once when I was chairing an interview panel I was asked by a candidate, ‘do staff members get discount at the gym? And can I attend classes in my lunch hour?’ I asked ‘do you have any questions about the job role?’ The candidate said ‘no.’ I expect you can imagine the interview outcome.
‘Do you have any questions for us?’
Before moving on to explore some possible questions, you might want to use this as an opportunity to say: ‘Yes, thank you. Before I do, is there anything else I can add that would be helpful for you to know about me in relation to the role that I’ve not covered?’ This gives the panel the chance to ask any questions to clarify your skills and experiences or things they’ve thought about during the interview.
Tip: Make a note of possible questions before the interview. You can then select the most appropriate ones from your list.
Good questions – some examples
- ‘What learning and development opportunities for the post holder are there?’ This question shows you’re keen to learn, not simply to do the job. Recruiters like people who take responsibility for their personal and professional growth.
- ‘How do you see the job changing in future?’ This question acknowledges that most jobs will evolve. The recruiter’s response will give you an insight into how it might develop. You then have an opportunity to respond enthusiastically to their answer.
- ‘What would you expect the post holder to have achieved within the first few months?’ The response you get will give an insight into their expectations. A job specification alone is unlikely to reveal this. It shows you are thinking your way into the role, imagining yourself delivering it. In turn the panel may be envisaging you performing the role.
- A question related to the specific sector or organisation if it’s been in the news may be timely and will illustrate your interest.
- You could ask the panel what they find most fulfilling about working for the company. This may give you an insight into the culture. Is what they say congruent with their marketing?
How many questions to ask?
Graduate recruiters will have many candidates to see. Keep your questions to a maximum of three as a courtesy to the panel. You want to leave the panel with a positive impression so once you’ve asked your questions, thank the panel for their time. Re-state your interest in the post and say you look forward to hearing from them. If the panel chair doesn’t state the timeframe or method for notifying you of the outcome it’s reasonable to ask when and how you may expect to hear.
Remember: preparation is everything. Coming second in a job interview is not the outcome you’re seeking.