7 questions to ask in an interview as a candidate

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You’ve made it to the interview stage, and you are preparing to answer a whole host of questions from your prospective employer. As if the thought of answering so many questions in a high-pressure environment isn’t enough, chances are the ball will be thrown into your court, and you will have the opportunity to ask the interviewer your own questions.

Knowing what to ask can be tough, but we have put together some handy guidelines that will help you to make the right impression, as well as five great questions that you can ask in your next interview.

While the interview is all about you, avoid making you the center of your questions. There are so many things you may want to know, such as salary, company perks, and holiday allowance, but an interview is not the time for these to be answered. Wait until you are offered the job. Similarly, don’t ask anything too personal of the interviewer. This person is not your friend, so avoid digging too deep into their life or any other confidential company information.

When you are asking questions about the company, consider avoiding basic questions that are likely to be answered elsewhere, such as online. You will want to gain a better understanding of the company, so aim for subjective questions that offer an opportunity for the interviewer to speak openly. 

Asking too many questions about one topic can suggest to the interviewer that you have an issue here. Instead, cover multiple topics in your questions to demonstrate your inquisitive nature, but be sure to keep these separate so that you and the interviewer - and you - can digest the information.

If you’re struggling to think of any relevant questions, the following five topics are great starting points.

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1. Ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of your specific role 

This is a great question to ask because it will directly relate to your specific role. Sometimes the job description isn’t very clear, and you will want to know what sorts of tasks will make up the bulk of your days, or who you are likely to spend most of your time with. 

It’s an excellent way to figure out your employer’s expectations, so if you succeed in getting the role you will know how to make a great first impression.

This question can open the door to plenty of valuable information, so pay attention and, if possible, take notes. 

Be wary of employers who provide very little detail or deflect from your original question. This may be an indication of a lack of structure, which can prove stressful and lead you to dislike your job.

2. Ask about the team you will be working in  

This piggy-backs off the previous question and helps you to ascertain a better understanding of your potential colleagues, as well as other teams within the organization that you are likely to work closely with.

This is great for you to be able to set boundaries and know where you sit within the company’s hierarchical structure. It also serves as an indication of your responsibilities, as well as potential scope for progression. 

You may want to broaden the realms of your question by asking about the company’s workforce as a whole, including its HR department, staff appraisal procedures, and its managerial structure.

Chances are your company is not alone in what it is doing, so whether it actively engages with tackling its competition can be a sign of a healthy future.

3. Ask about progression within the company 

Nothing shows that you’re serious more than thinking ahead, and in business terms, this means progression. Ask about training and development opportunities and whether there is any room to explore more senior positions with time.

This can be great news for you, too: breaking out of a job with no progression opens doors to pay rises and other perks, though there is a lot of stress that comes with high-level roles that you should consider.

Employers love to see excellent skills on your CV, but they do not expect you to be an expert in your field. Building your skills within a company will allow them to put their own stamp on you, so while opportunities like this can be priceless, remember to take an impartial approach when learning if you want to develop transferable skills. 

If you’re unsure how to word your question, consider asking about other employees’ journeys.

4. Ask about the company’s culture 

If you want to know that you’ll be happy in your role, check that the company’s values match your own. Seek insight into the company’s culture, such as how different teams integrate and collaborate, and whether there is a social element where work isn’t the primary focus.

Pry for information, such as which type of employees struggle, and you will be able to read deeper into the interviewer’s answer, gaining valuable information about the support network you’re likely to be faced with. 

Another great question is to ask about the company’s long-term goals and ambitions. This will give you a sense of the sort of work that will be coming up and how it aligns with your visions. Check whether this vision matches what the company claims are its values and visions.

5. Ask about how you can make the right impression 

Although it’s a good idea to avoid questions that put you at the forefront, asking how you can make the right impression is a valid question. Ask about what you can do during your probationary period to make a lasting impression that proves you are a valuable asset to the company.

This is as close as you will get to a cheat’s guide to passing your probationary period: do whatever the interviewer says you should do, and there will be little to complain about.

It’s also a good time to check whether what the interviewer says matches your understanding of the official job specification; these are notoriously vague and often a manager’s vision of your role will differ from the initial description you were supplied with.

6. What do you enjoy about your job and the company? 

Remember that a job interview isn’t just a chance for the company to check you out – it’s a chance for you to find out information about the business, too.

If you ask your interviewer what they like about working at the firm, you’ll be able to glean some direct, first-hand knowledge about the positive aspects of the business and, potentially, the department and team where you may end up working.

This is a good question to ask if you’ve already developed a rapport with your interviewer, and it’s an excellent way to build on that relationship even further. It’s one question, but there’s an awful lot of potential knowledge on offer. And, if the interviewer doesn’t answer with much enthusiasm, that tells its own story.

On the other end of the scale, it’s also worth asking the interviewer about the most challenging aspects of their job so you can get a balanced and realistic view of the business.

7. What will the company look like in the next five years? 

The interviewer will probably ask you how you see your career developing at the company in question, so it’s only fair that you ask the interviewer how the business will progress in the same sort of period.

It’s an important question to ask for several reasons. It’ll give you an insight into the level of ambition and organization in the company, and how well those aspects dovetail with your own goals. This answer can also help you gauge the situation surrounding job security at the business – you’ll find more of that at a stable business with a firm plan. Asking this can also impress your interviewer because you’ve shown your long-term commitment to the company.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!

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