At the end of every interview there’s a pause and the interviewer says ‘so, do you have any questions for us?’
The absolutely wrong thing to say is ‘no’.
You must go armed with questions to ask. Write them down on a pad and get that pad out at the start of the interview. If you get to the ‘do you have any questions?’ stage and they’ve answered them all you can at least say ‘well I did have quite a few,’ <point at pad> ‘but you appear to have covered everything.’
Having no questions makes you seem unprepared and uninterested so it’s really important that you make the point that you have done your homework.
but what are the safe questions for interviews, and which should you avoid?
You may find that while you’re doing your due diligence on the company and the interviewer before the interview you find things that you really want to ask about, but what are the safe questions for interviews, and which should you avoid?
Don’t ask about salary. This is a question for the job offer stage and not for the interview. Similarly steer away from questions about benefits, holiday allowance and sick pay.
dig to find out if the company you’re interviewing at offers a style of working to suit you
Do ask about company culture. Just as important as the work you’ll be doing will be the environment you’ll be working in and the people you’ll be working with so it’s important that you feel comfortable with both of those. Some people prefer to go home at 6pm and never see their colleagues out of work hours, others thrive on weekly team drinks and spend their weekends playing five-a-side with their co-workers. It’s important you establish how you prefer to work and how much (or not) you like your personal life to mix with your work life and then dig to find out if the company you’re interviewing at offers a style of working to suit you.
It’s also fine to ask about training opportunities and how performance is assessed – do they have an annual review for example? Do they handle all their training in-house or is there a budget to take external courses?
Avoid asking about promotion as you may come across as uninterested in the role on offer, but instead ask about the last person that did the position you’re interviewing for which will give you a good indication of why the job is vacant and what the potential is for progression.
Questions like this demonstrate you’ve got a good depth of industry knowledge
You might also want to ask them about industry trends and how their firm intends to handle those. For example ‘In the latest PRCA census it was reported that there is a shift away from AVEs as a measurement tool towards using the Barcelona Principles for evaluation. Are clients still insisting on AVEs here and do you push back on them?’ Questions like this demonstrate you’ve got a good depth of industry knowledge and can genuinely spark a discussion around an industry issue with a potential employer.
A good trick for asking questions of interviewers is to ask them about themselves. As a rule, people love talking about themselves so ‘how long have you worked here?’ or ‘why did you choose to join this firm?’ can throw the ball back in their court.
Be prepared to ask at least three questions and then use the opportunity to highlight anything about yourself that might not have been asked about earlier. ‘Thanks for answering my questions, before I leave I just wanted to stress that I am really interested in this position and thought it might be worth mentioning that I have x, y, z previous experience which could be really relevant for this role’ is a nice way to end the meeting.