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What should I be asking a potential employer in an interview?

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As a job candidate, you might think only the people on the other side of the table are allowed to ask questions. But asking your own questions during a job interview shows that you

  • have spent some time researching the company
  • are interested in the position and the organization
  • have the confidence to ask questions
  • are not afraid to assert yourself appropriately

In fact, asking well-thought-out questions can dramatically improve the impression you make.

But asking questions does more than impress your interviewers. It also helps you clarify and make sure this job and organization will be the right fit for you.

Ask the Right Questions

You may think of some questions spontaneously during the interview. But you can improve your ability to ask appropriate questions by doing some advance research.

Imagine you’re writing an article about the company for a magazine, and look up what you need to include before your interview. For example, you might research

  • recent milestones
  • past challenges
  • future goals

Questions about any of these will show your knowledge of and interest in the organization. You can also ask about work atmosphere or how different teams are structured.

In addition, you might ask questions about your own potential role at the company, such as key responsibilities for the position, what a typical day would look like, or what teams or projects you could expect to work on.

But avoid asking questions to which you could easily find answers by visiting the company’s website, such as its size or locations of branch offices.

You can also focus on qualitative issues by asking about the company’s workplace culture. More and more companies have a good fit in mind when they hire—and the right work environment is important for you, too.

Observe Question Etiquette

There are no hard and fast rules, but these guidelines can help you ask questions that will reflect well on you:

  • Bring a list of questions with you. When asked if you have any questions, glance at it quickly and pick a few that haven’t been answered.
  • Limit the number of questions you ask. While there is no “correct” number, 3 are often enough to show your keen interest without taking too much time.
  • Tune in to your interviewer’s body language. If it seems like they want to wrap up the interview, save your other questions until you’re offered the position.

Finally, avoid questions about compensation unless the interviewer raises the topic (though you may want to prepare a response in case they do). You want to impress the interviewer with your interest in the organization, not go straight to the bottom line. You will have time for those questions during the salary negotiations, if you get an offer.

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