The classic interview question: “is there anything you’d like to ask us?”

man answering interview questions

For some job applicants this is the bit they’ve been looking forward to. For many, however, it can be a moment of dread. Either because they don’t have any questions for whatever reason, or because they are concerned the questions might somehow reflect badly on them. It is just as important to consider this section of the interview as it is the grilling that focusses on your experience and skills. Therefore, make sure this is a central part of your overall interview preparation.

In general, assume that having no questions is likely to be thought a bit odd and likely to be viewed negatively.  The only exception being if it is clear the meeting has run out of time: if the hour is up it is certainly sensible to draw attention to the time before raising any queries because the interviewer may be hoping you don’t have any! It could be flattering to say “well everything has been extremely thorough so I think we’ve covered most of the ground” but if time allows two or three questions is probably ideal.

This is not a time to ask for information that you should have been able to find out by competent research, or is on the job spec, or which they may know has been covered by other interviewers. Also pay/package/holidays/working from home/worklife balance are definitely not on the agenda at this point.  Neither is any question that might either sound negative or force the interviewer to give a negative answer. Although you will need to hear the warts and all, you want the last stage of the interview to finish on a positive note!

Here are some to consider:

Do my qualifications/experience/this interview meet your expectations and what you were looking for?

There is a risk this will make your interviewer feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it might also give you an opportunity to address any concerns. However, make sure you have their agreement to do so. At this point, the interviewer may not have the time or the interest in revisiting a point they may feel has been covered. Avoid putting them on the spot though e.g. How did I do?  Have I got the job?

What do you enjoy most about working for this company?

If you feel this is too direct try “What do people in the team most enjoy about working for this company?”. Don’t ask the opposite: as per above, you don’t want to leave the interview on a negative.

What does great performance look like in this role?

Hopefully, you know what the job is and how you’re being measured or assessed so this is a subtly different question that also shows you’re not the type to settle for “OK”.

What are the next steps and what is your timescale?

It’s likely they have mentioned these, but if they haven’t then not only is it an essential piece of information but it also might just give you some feedback or indication as to whether you are likely to feature in the process from here! Best not appear too pushy or impatient but it is important to tell them if you are at/approaching final stages with other applications.

What is the key to succeeding in this role?

Yes you might have been told targets or deliverables, but that’s really not the same as this great question.

How long would you expect someone to be in this role and what would be the potential next steps?

You really need to know this too but be very careful that your phrasing doesn’t give the interviewer concerns about your tenure in the job they are looking to fill. They have a need for a job to be done and will be wary if they think someone is going to be angling for the next move too quickly. There is no definition of “too quick” but it is safe to assume that two years is the minimum that even the highest flier would be expected to be in a job before getting itchy feet.

Could you go into more detail about the company’s culture/values?

Care is required that you don’t look like you haven’t done your homework. Otherwise, this question is a good way of both impressing and using up a few minutes if you’re stumped for other questions. Why will this “impress”? Companies LOVE to talk about their values and LOVE to think they are hiring someone who cares.

We have more advice and help with your job search on our Candidate Services page including CV writing, and updating your LinkedIn profile. We also have a comprehensive guide to answering a range of interview questions you may encounter.

See our Vacancies page for a selection of our current vacancies.

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