So you’ve made it through a phone screen, and now it’s time for the big in-person Interview. You’re crushing every question the hiring manager throws at you, feeling super confident this is the role for you, and then they ask, “Do you have any questions for us?”
When we’re searching for a job, we often forget the interview process is our opportunity to make sure the company and the position are a good fit for us, too. We spend so much time hoping the company will want us, and in the process we neglect to determine whether we want them as well.
At some point in our careers, we’ve all been hit with the dreaded “Any questions?” question. If you’re just getting started or you’ve been off the market for a while — or even if you’d just like a refresher — we talked to hiring managers from four Colorado startups to uncover what they really want to hear once they’ve posed the question to candidates.
“At a high level, some of the most important parts of the hiring process are the questions you ask during interviews,” said Brittany Stich, co-founder of Guild Education. “They help me understand what you value, what you've learned throughout our hiring process, and how you see yourself long term here at Guild.”
How to prepare
It’s always a good idea to research the company before you apply for a job — and it’d be a mistake to think you know everything there is to know about the company the moment you send in your application.
“In order to ask meaningful questions, candidates need to have done some preliminary research on who we are as a company and what our mission is,” said Connor Leahy, corporate recruiter for CA Technologies.
Look into what the company has done since you first sent in your application, an achievement that piques your curiosity or even something fun they’ve posted on social media lately.
Deciding what to ask
Getting to the core of the company is a major key to asking the right questions during an interview. “I always like when people ask about our vision and culture,” said Lindsay Kueber, HR manager for OrthoFi.
While there’s no silver bullet question you can ask that will for sure land you the job, Leahy said a couple of great questions to ask to get to the bottom of what matters most at a company are, “Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other?”
Stich agrees it’s important to use the interview to take a deeper look at the company. “I am always impressed by folks who go deeper and ask questions about why we made certain choices and what trade-offs we considered,” she said. “It shows off your research, curiosity, and thoughtfulness.”
Asking questions during the interview is your opportunity to learn as much about the role as possible and to demonstrate your critical thinking skills. It’s also a way for you to clearly communicate your passion for the company and its mission.
Don’t forget the value of following up on something you said earlier in the interview. “If one of your responses during the interview was, ‘Company culture is an important factor for me when choosing the right employer,’ asking a question about what the interviewer enjoys most about the company culture is a great way to follow up,” said Will Hewitt, recruiter for Personal Capital.
What to avoid
While most recruiters want — and expect — you to ask questions, be mindful of what you ask and how. “Asking about benefits, time off, working hours, location, etc., is fine,” said Hewitt. “But it’s a major red flag if those are the only questions you have for the interviewer… Also, don’t ask if they drug test.”
Be sure not to ask questions that could easily have been answered by doing research ahead of time — it shows the interviewer you didn’t bother to prepare and reflects poorly on you as a candidate.
The approach you take to asking questions is up to you, but the most important lesson is to have questions prepared before you get to the interview. “The only stupid questions are when there are no questions asked,” said Kueber.
Image via Shutterstock.
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