“Do you have any questions for me?” It’s the inevitable part of every job interview that can throw even the most prepared applicants for a loop. You know it’s coming, but you just never know how to respond.
Ask no questions and you may seem disinterested, aloof–even fearful or stupid. Ask the wrong questions–or too many questions–and you may offend or irritate the interviewer. The ball is in your court, and you can’t afford to drop it.
So what do you do? What are good questions to ask at a job interview? Here are five solid winners to try out next time you’re a visitor to an unfamiliar HR office. They’re simple, relevant and hard to screw up.
Questions to ask at a job interview #1: “What’s the work environment like?”
If you’re a good candidate, you’ve probably done your research. You already know all about the company, its offices and its corporate culture. Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Give the interviewer a chance to brag about their company a bit, and look very interested while they do it. And when the interviewer starts talking about things you already know, you can use it as an opportunity to show off the fact that you’ve already done your homework (“Oh yeah, I was reading about that on the company website,” etc.)
Questions to ask at a job interview #2: “When can I expect to hear from you?”
This is one of the most relevant and useful questions to ask at a job interview. It lets the interviewer know that you’re confident; it lets them know that you do, in fact, expect to hear back from them. It lets them know that you’re serious and enthusiastic about pursuing the position. And, most importantly, this semi-open-ended question lets you get a feel for how the interviewer feels about your candidacy, based on their reaction.
Questions to ask at a job interview #3: “What’s the starting pay range?”
Some experts consider this a “no-no,” but if you haven’t heard anything about salary yet, the end of your interview is a perfectly appropriate time to bring up the issue. After all, you don’t want to waste your time on something that might be below your acceptable pay range, and sometimes, if the pay isn’t clearly indicated in the job posting, the company might have something to hide. You have a right to find out before things go any further.
Questions to ask at a job interview #4: “What kinds of opportunities for advancement might there be in the future?”
Be careful with this one. It’s good to show that you’re a career-minded person who plans to stick with the company for an extended period of time. On the other hand, you don’t want to be so focused on future opportunities that you give the impression you only want to use the position you’re interviewing for as a springboard to bigger and better things. This can be an especially touchy subject if you’re interviewing with the person who would be directly above you in the company food chain. If you give the interviewer a reason to believe that you’re gunning for their job, you’re hurting your chances.
Questions to ask at a job interview #5: “Will you keep my application on file for future openings?”
This is an especially appropriate question to use if you don’t get a good feeling from the initial interview, or it turns out that you’re not what the company is looking for in this particular position. You can remain attractive by maintaining enthusiasm and positivity. Be proactive about future openings with the company, and there’s a good chance you’ll be remembered. Even a disappointing interview can lead to good things in the future if you present yourself well and stay positive.