We’ve all been there: You get to the end of a job interview, you’ve answered all questions with confidence, eloquence and sweaty palms, and the interviewer turns the tables: Do you have any questions of your own?
This is where things can quickly go off the rails for many candidates, because the second-worst thing you can do is say “no,” says J.T. O’Donnell, founder of CareerRealism, a career advice and job search site.
(The worst thing? Asking about salary, or benefits, or days off, which is presumptuous at best and self-centered at worst).
What you want to do is ask a few thoughtful questions that get you the information you need to know while also showcasing your critical-thinking skills. I polled a couple of experts to come up with seven questions that do just that:
What do you love most about working for this company?
It’s important to remember that your interviewer is human — and may soon be your colleague — so it’s more than appropriate to get to know him or her, says O’Donnell. This question shows that you’re taking an interest, while also allowing you to assess how your interviewer feels about working for the company you may soon join.
What does it take for someone to be successful in this role?
“By asking this, you’re really going to find out how this role is being measured, what is expected, and what needs to be attained in order to do a good job,” says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at Glassdoor.
What are the main responsibilities of this job, and how might those evolve?
Could you find this in a job description? Sure, but that’s not the point. The key to this question, says Dobroski, is the end: It shows that you understand that businesses are changing all the time, and your responsibilities and duties might evolve as the business does. “You want to demonstrate that you know there will be growth, and you’re ambitious, flexible, malleable, ready to do anything and smart enough to want to know if you can handle the task.”
How will I interact with the team?
This is a chance for the hiring manager to share whom you’ll be working with — including to whom you’ll report, and whether anyone reports to you — and how the employees of this company work together, says Dobroski.
What’s the company culture like?
Dobroski says that Glassdoor research shows that company culture is No. 3 on the list of job-seeker priorities (No. 1 is salary; No. 2 is career opportunities). “You want to make sure you fit in with the family you’re joining, and you share their values and mission.” If the interviewer struggles to answer this question, it could be a red flag.
What challenges will the company face this year, and as an employee, how can I help with these challenges?
You want to know how your job can have a positive impact on the company, says O’Donnell, and asking will show that you’re feeling connected to the role.
Is there anything about my background or experience that you would change to make me a better fit for this role?
This opens the door for the interviewer to share any reservations he or she has about you, says O’Donnell, but perhaps more important, it gives you the opportunity to respond.