Job interview: Do you have any questions for me?

By Aaron Elezra on behalf of the WUJS Israel Programs. Aaron is a freelance writer and has worked extensively as a careers councilor.

The interview has been going well so far. Your qualifications seem to line up well with the requirements for the job. You have established a good rapport with the interviewer and you really think this could be the right fit for you. You’re excited about the opportunity to work for the company and the interviewer seems equally excited about having you come on board.

Then, the interviewer drops the bomb. “Do you have any questions for me?” How you respond may make or break your chances for landing the position. The good news is that just like you can (and should) prepare for questions that a job interviewer will ask you, you can also prepare to ask your own questions during an interview.

Company related questions

If you haven’t already researched the company before, you should do so before your interview. Use your research of the company’s website and news stories about the company to ask about expansion plans, innovations and related information. This will show the interviewer that you have done your homework in preparing for the interview, and also demonstrates your enthusiasm.

Ask about the company culture. Questions like “what type of employee does well here?” and “what makes working for you more favorable than working for your competitors?” allow you to scout out whether you’ll be expected to work late nights and weekends, without making you sound like a slacker. Questions such as “what is the management philosophy of the company?” and “do different departments operate collaboratively or autonomously?” allow you to determine whether the climate of a company encourages cooperation or is highly competitive.

Growth and advancement

Even the best job can become a dead end if there is no room for advancement. Ask about the status of the last person who held the job you’re for which you’re interviewing. If he or she was promoted within the company, that’s an excellent sign. However, don’t jump to conclusions if he or she left for another company or was let go.

Ask about whether opportunities exist for in-house training to allow employees to remain current or to qualify for promotions. Inquire about whether employees are encouraged to pursue further education and if tuition subsidies or reimbursements are available. Mention that you’re asking because you intend to focus any additional education you obtained toward improving your performance within the company, not enhance your credentials just so you can leave for another company.

Selection process

Ask about whether second interviews will be scheduled. If you haven’t done so already, ask if candidates will be requested to provide references. It’s also perfectly legitimate to ask approximately how long the selection process is expected to take, but you can frame your question in the context of inquiring how long you should wait before following up with the company.

If you’re stuck

If the interviewer has already answered all the questions you prepared in advance, or if you didn’t prepare a list of questions, ask the interviewer how and why he or she came to work for the company – whether he or she was hired for this position or was promoted into it. Ask her about her favorite aspects of the job or the company – or both. If all else fails, ask for a card so that you can follow up with questions you may have at a later date.