Flip the Interview

It’s that moment of a job interview that every applicant dreads. After chatting casually about your experience and qualifications, the hiring manager looks you in the eye and asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” 

Gulp. It’s here. What do I do? What do I say? I don’t want to appear stupid? Do I have to say anything? Is it alright to simply pass? 

A good job interview should be a two-way street. In other words, there should be a conversation, a dialogue, not an interrogation. Sure, the interviewer is seeking to determine whether you are the right person for the job, but at the same time, your goal should be determining whether the job is right for you.

To a certain extent, you can ascertain a job’s appropriateness through the types of questions the hiring manager is asking. Chances are, however, there will be a number of vital questions which remain unasked at the end of a typical interview, however. It falls to you, therefore, to ensure such questions are posed.

Here are some sample questions you may wish to ask when given the opportunity: 

  • What is your definition of the ideal candidate?
  • What happened to the last person who held this job?
  • What are the most important skills and attributes for this position?
  • How often will I be evaluated if I am hired for this job?
  • How will you be defining success in this position?
  • What opportunities exist for growth and advancement?
  • What do you envision for the company in five years?
  • Tell me about the structure and hierarchy of the company?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

 Conversely, here are some questions you should never ask: 

  • What does the company do? (You should already know this going in.)
  • How much does the job pay? (The hiring manager should be the one to broach this subject.)
  • How soon do I get vacation? (Wait until the job has been offered to begin discussions of time-off.)
  • Are you going to hire me? (Don’t seem too eager. If they decide to hire you, they will let you know.)

Whenever possible, keep the questions open-ended. Avoid questions which can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” And be sure to avoid questions which could be easily be answered by visiting the company’s website.

What questions you ultimately ask is up to you. To a certain extent, the job and company in question will help dictate what questions are appropriate to ask. The important thing is not to let this valuable opportunity pass you by. Remember, the only stupid questions are the ones you never ask.

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