You’ve reached that point in the interview – the momentary lull following a series of Q & As when the interviewer asks if you have any questions. It’s important to know that the interviewer is not doing this to answer literally any question you might have, but rather to observe whether you’ll ask the kinds of questions that exemplify that you’re a good fit for the organization.
What You Shouldn’t Do:
Don’t be fooled: This is still very much part of the interview and something you should prepare for.
Don’t say that you have no questions: This conveys indifference and a lack of enthusiasm for the position.
Don’t respond with “Umm…”: This shows a lack of preparation and eagerness to find out more about the organization.
Don’t make it obvious you haven’t done your homework: Asking a question you could have easily Googled or found on the employer’s website is a rookie mistake.
Don’t ask whatever pops into your head: This is not the time to delve into the interviewer’s personal background (even if it happened to come up during the interview), or ask about salary, benefits, or time off.
What You Should Do:
Do show interest in the company’s culture and core values: This demonstrates a desire to identify how your values align with those of the hiring organization.
“I know this company is committed to X and Y, so what would you say is the most important aspect of your culture?”
“What would you say this company most values and how would my work further or exemplify these values?”
Do try to identify the employer’s challenges – and how you can help alleviate them: This shows the employer that you are interested in actively contributing to and improving the organization.
“What changes or improvements do you hope the new employee will bring to this position?”
Do bring the position to life: Asking what personality traits or qualities a candidate needs to do this job well demonstrates your desire to understand how you as an individual can uniquely contribute to the organization beyond the job description.
“What personal characteristics do you think would be ideal for someone in this position?”
Do determine your daily priorities: Asking what tasks you should prioritize not only provides you with insight about your day-to-day tasks, but also gets the interviewer to imagine you in the position.
“If I were to start tomorrow, what would be the top priorities on my to-do list?”
Asking these questions should be mutually beneficial. Not only do they allow the interviewer to learn more about you as a candidate, but they also give you the opportunity to learn more about your fit in the organization. Pick a couple of focus areas guided by the interview up to this point and then take full advantage of the opportunity to ask questions. You’ll leave the interview more informed, confident and with some extra info for maximizing your thank you note.