How to ask questions at a job interview

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There's a moment towards the end of a job interview where the employer will flip the switch and turn the dynamic on its head, by turning to you and asking, "Do you have anything you'd like to ask us?"

Often this is met with a blank stare or a nervous laugh, or a hurried "No thanks, I'm sure I have everything I need." But this isn't necessarily a great strategy. The last-minute flipping of question authority is not simply a way to tie up the interview while maintaining a polite façade - there's a good reason behind it.

Here are some deft ways to deal with the intimidating question-asking portion of a job interview.

Prepare for It

It's well known that this is often something to come up in a job interview. So failing to prepare something for it is a sure fire way to shoot yourself in the foot.

Preparing for job interviews is notoriously tricky, and this is one area where you can feel confident. So why not take it?

Don't Ask for Asking's Sake

It's best to prepare a question just in case, but if you don't, the best thing to do might be to smile and say "No, thank you."

Plucking a random question out of midair shows lack of forethought, and, depending of the question you go for, an inability to think on your feet.

Go Open Ended

Another way to up the awkwardness is to just ask a simple yes or no question. After the interviewer answers, you'll be left in silence, the whole situation seeming like a horrible missed opportunity.

A poorly thought through question is most likely worse than no question at all.

Know Who You're Talking To

If you know your interviewer is part of human resources, focus on things about company culture. If it's management, try to demonstrate knowledge of the industry. If it's a future boss, ask about responsibilities and ways to move up in the company.

Things to Avoid

  • Anything Not Job Focused - e.g. "Are there after work drinks and events?"
  • Anything You Could Answer Yourself - e.g. "When was the company founded?"
  • Anything Too Money Focused - e.g. "What's the salary of the positon?"
  • Anything Overly Complicated or Oddly Specific

Some Good Starting Points

  • Specifics About The Position - e.g. "What's a typical day in the role like?"
  • The History Of The Position - e.g. "Is this a new position?" or "Why is the last employee leaving this role?"
  • Questions About The Interviewer - e.g. "How has your journey been within the company?"
  • Questions About The Company - e.g. "How would you describe the general company culture?"
  • Questions About Your Applications - e.g. "Do you have any concerns about my abilities or skills in this position?"
  • Wrapping It Up - e.g. "What will the next stages of the interview process be?"

Annie Walton Doyle writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.

Image Credit: Eunice Lituanas