Picture this: You’ve reached the final minutes of your job interview. The interviewer leans forward and says, “This has been great. Do you have any questions for me?”
Despite this golden opportunity to learn more about the job—and settle any lingering doubts—most candidates will shake their head and say, “No.”
That response is a mistake, because it suggests a lack of interest in the position. Nor do you want to provide a broad, generic question about company goals or culture—the interviewer has heard every possible variation of those from other candidates. If you want to stand out, don’t follow in those footsteps. Nor do you want to make premature queries such as, “When do I start?” or “How many vacation days can I get from the beginning?” You haven’t even been offered the job yet.
The best questions to ask leverage the preceding interview in some way. Did the interviewer mention something about the industry and its challenges that piqued your interest? Or maybe he or she hinted at an in-house training program that you didn’t come across in your research—that’s something probably worth exploring further. Whenever such “curiosity points” come up in the interview, take mental note to revisit them later.
Some job candidates enjoy the opportunity to put the interviewer on the spot. “Why do you like working for this company?” they might ask. Or: “What’s your favorite part of the culture here?” This particular line of inquiry can prove illuminating—if the interviewer seems enthusiastic about the company, it’s usually a good sign—but it’s important to not come off as too aggressive, which can make things awkward.
There’s a lot of leeway with regard to the questions you can ask—the important part is to ask something.