“Is the company right for you?” should be top of mind during your job interview. But your focus is likely on impressing the interviewer with your abilities and expertise. Obviously, that’s a major goal of an interview, but recognising your own needs is equally important. Would you be happy as this firm’s employee? When your interview’s nearly over, it’s time for you to ask some questions of your own.
The usual ‘Have you got any questions you’d like to ask me?’ is a way for your interviewer to find out how interested in the role you really are. It’ll also give them a steer on how thoroughly you’ve prepared.
These few minutes are also the perfect chance for you to find out if the role and company makes sense for you. So don’t waste your opportunity to dig down into vital information that will help you decide if this should be your future employer.
To avoid an awkward silence (and maybe even career tumbleweed), have some of the following 6 questions up your sleeve. We explain the benefits to asking these questions and which red flags to look out for:
Question: ‘What are the biggest strengths you’re looking for in this role?’
Why ask it? Depending on your interviewer’s answer to this question, you can use your next reply to highlight your own strengths. Hopefully you’ve already done this in the main part of the interview, so this gives you another shot.
For example, let’s say your interviewer cites teamwork as the most important strength their ideal candidate has. You can then bring up an example of when your teamwork and collaboration skills have helped you succeed in another role.
Red flag: If the interviewer mentions a strength that you don’t feel confident you have, it could be a sign the role is not for you.
Question: 'What would my first two months in this role look like?’
Why ask it? Asking a question that commits your interviewer to a timeline shows you take forward planning seriously. It’s also your chance to try and picture yourself in the job.
Red flags: If your interviewer doesn’t mention any upcoming projects that could mean there’s no clearly defined role here. And if they don’t seem to be including your position in key team objectives for the first few months, you may struggle to find your way.
Question: ‘Can you tell me what kind of roles people in this position have gone on to do?’
Why ask it? Asking about the career progression of your predecessors can give valuable hints about the type of grounding this role will give you for the next steps in your career. It could also show how seriously the employer takes training and development.
Red flag: If your interviewer doesn’t share any career progression stories, this could be a warning sign. It’s possible the last few people in this role quit because of stress.
Question: ‘While I was doing my research, I noticed that your company [insert fact here]. Can you tell me more about that?’
Why ask it? Chances are you know a brief history of the company if you’ve done your homework. You may also know what they want their next steps to be. Your question could be about something forward thinking and positive in the company or something that has you perplexed.
Asking something that’s based on the research you did while preparing for this interview is not only a good way to impress your interviewer, it will also inform you better about the firm.
Red flag: If your question about the company was regarding something that had you concerned and you receive an unsatisfactory answer, that could mean it’s not for you.
Question: 'What’s your favourite thing about working here?'
Why ask it? Most interviewers are used to the tables being turned on them and so might have something they answer every time. But it’s still interesting and somewhat revealing to find out what they value in their working day. And if their eyes light up with genuine enthusiasm about their workplace, that’s great.
Red flag: If they seem to be trotting something out or their eyes glaze over while they’re answering, it could be a hint of things to come. In this case, the answer to the question: “Is the company right for you?” is probably a resounding “no.”
In fact we’d probably add this to our list of warning signs to look out for during a video interview.
Question: ‘Do you think I’m a good fit for this role?’
Why ask it? OK, asking this question takes guts and you might possibly be cringing inside if you do ask this. But it shows you’re self-aware and are committed to getting this job.
Your interviewer may bat the question away by saying that they’re going to be reviewing everyone who’s interviewed and will get back to them. But, they could also be honest enough to express doubts about a part of your CV or your career history. If you’ve come to the realisation that this is a company you really want to work for, this gives you an opportunity. Here’s your chance to try to alleviate any concerns and show you’d be a good fit after all.
Plus, this moment will give your would-be boss a taster of how you take constructive criticism if you do end up getting the job.
Red flag: If the interviewer’s answer is very negative, there may be no way to convince them otherwise. In this case, focus on putting your best foot forward next time.
Spending some time thinking about some thoughtful questions to ask at the end won’t just help impress your interviewer. Going through this process before you meet will benefit you, too. It will help you think more about what you want from the role, as well as what you’re looking for from the next company you join. And of course, it will help you to answer the important question: Is the company right for you?
Find out how to respond to the trickiest interview questions and read our comprehensive guide on how to ace an interview. We’ve also compiled an interview advice page featuring blogs with some of our top interview tips.