It's usually treated as a quick courtesy, or a tacked-on coda to the main show. Just as a job interview is winding up, your interviewer will toss out, almost as an afterthought, "do you have any questions for us?"
You might sense that the interviewers are ready to leave, and it would be impolite to ask a substantial question. Or you might be so emotionally spent by the end of the discussion that the only questions on your mind are things like “where’s your bathroom?” or “do you validate parking?” Or maybe at the end of a particularly aggressive grilling, you might be tempted to turn the tables with a “why don’t you tell me about one of your weaknesses?
But none of those responses are particularly constructive. Don't squander the opportunity at the end of an interview to ask some questions of your own. These queries can draw out important information about the company and about the position. Meanwhile, a well-crafted question can spark a substantive conversation, improving your chances of landing the job.
Here are a few great questions to ask at the end of an interview:
Beyond the hard skills required to perform the job successfully, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?
Soft skills are imperative to success in any position. However, they are hard to demonstrate in quantitative ways. Almost by definition, they don’t appear in job descriptions, even though they are often necessary to excel. They are also often hard to list on a resume in a way that doesn’t seem forced.
Still, you want an opportunity to discuss soft skills. If the subject doesn’t come up in the interview, this question lets you prompt the conversation. It gives you a chance to highlight information that might not explicitly appear on your resume.
What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
This question serves two purposes. First, you signal your desire to excel in the position. It shows you have an interest in the job and the desire to go the extra mile.
Second, the framing of the question can sometimes bring you more information about the job than you might otherwise receive. It takes a relatively abstract conception (“what’s this job really like?”) and turns it into something more concrete. Instead of talking in generalities, your interviewers can use past case studies to help you understand what the position entails.
How would you describe the corporate culture here?
A good portion of your day-to-day job satisfaction will relate to culture, not to the position itself. However, most of the pre-hire communication related to an opportunity, from the job posting to the interview, only relates to the responsibilities and requirements of the gig itself. They might touch on the corporate structure and possible advancement opportunities. Still, the subject of culture often gets a short, usually abstract, description, that is, if the topic comes up at all.
That's a shame. Culture often defines your level of satisfaction in a position. You should strive to learn as much as possible about the topic before deciding whether to consider a job. If it doesn't come up in the interview, make a point to ask about it before you head out.
Learning as much as possible about a position is key to future job satisfaction. It helps to have insider information. You can get that from a staffing agency. A strong recruiting partner, like United Personnel, will provide you the knowledge you need to make intelligent career choices.
Contact United Personnel today to find out what they can do for you.