The one job interview question that you cannot say ‘no’ to

There is a question that you will be asked in every single job interview you conduct, and you have to be prepared to say ‘yes’ to it.

Somewhere towards the back half of the conversation, the potential employer will come to the end of their list of things to ask, and they will say something to the effect of, “So, do you have any questions for me?

Don’t say no

There are several reasons why replying, no, you don’t have any questions will leave a negative impression on the interviewer.

It can give the impression that you are not that interested in the job

If you are passionate about working for a company, you should be full of curiosity about the job, the team, the workplace, the challenges and projects for the future. Show them that by asking for more information.

You don’t appear to have researched the company

One of the most common pet-peeves employers have with job seekers is when they come for interviews with little or no knowledge of the company. You can demonstrate that you aren’t one of those candidates with some carefully-crafted queries about the company and the industry.

You appear to be an unsavvy candidate

Even if they aren’t particularly passionate about the role, most sharp job seekers would have known that they would be asked if they had any questions, and prepared a few smart things to ask.

Questions not to ask

Of course, there are questions that will hurt your chances of getting hired more than helping them. Here’s what not to ask:

Questions that you should already know the answer to

Again, employers prefer candidates who know about their company and want to work there specifically. So, asking what the business does, what sector they are in, or any other question that could easily have been answered with even a cursory glance at the company website would be a major faux pas.

What’s in it for you

Salary, benefits, vacation time, etc. are all important to you, of course. You’ll have plenty of time to discuss these in the negotiation phase, once the employer wants to hire you and is making you an offer. The job interview is all about getting to that phase. At this point, you have to impress the employer with what you can do for them – not what they can do for you.

About other jobs

Yes, you are ambitious and want to grow in your career, but the employer is trying to fill this job right now. That is their challenge. So, don’t blow it by indicating you aren’t really interested in that job and are unlikely to stay in it for very long. Questions like, “How long would I have to stay in this position before I could be promoted?” or “I may be overqualified for this job, but I would like to get my foot in the door, are there any other positions available?” will make you look like a flight risk before you’ve even started.

What to ask

A job interview is a conversation. You and your potential employer should each do roughly 50 percent of the talking. Asking smart questions is your opportunity to steer the dialogue and make a lasting impression.

Why? Because smart questions prove that you are a savvy, career-minded candidate who is passionate about the company, has researched the role, and is enthusiastic to learn more.

In the best cases, your questions can also demonstrate that you are already thinking of ways that you can contribute. I once interviewed a candidate who asked me about our web traffic challenges, and she asked me whether or not we had tried a series of specific strategies. The job interview turned into a brainstorming session of things that she could try that could potentially accomplish the company’s objectives. I had already decided before the end of the interview that she had the job.

Ask questions like:
  • How would you describe the culture of the company?
  • What is your favourite thing about working here?
  • What would you say would be the most important tasks for the first month on the job in this role?
  • How will success be measured?
  • What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the company/department right now?
  • Is this a newly created role? Or am I replacing an exiting employee? Follow up with: what challenge was this role created to tackle? / Has the role evolved?
  • What do you anticipate the timeline for hiring this position will be, and what are the next steps?
  • Do you have any hesitations regarding my qualifications? I’m very interested in being a part of this team. So, please let me know if you need any more information from me to help my candidacy.

You can make a greater positive impression in a job interview with your questions than with those you answer. So, when you’re asked if you have any questions, don’t waste the opportunity by saying, ‘no.’

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