Candidates are usually comfortable answering lots of different types of questions in interview, but often forget to ask a few of their own. Excel CEO Barry Whelan discusses one of the most overlooked parts of job interviews and sets out a handy guide to the right and wrong questions to ask.
Job interviews can be very stressful. You need to research the company, decide how to best dress, find the office and get there on time. There is a lot going on before you even worry about the interview itself!
No wonder people breathe a sigh of relief as the interview starts to wrap up, having spent the last hour trying to come across as effortlessly brilliant while answering an employer’s tricky questions.
But remember not to let your guard down. At the end of an interview, you will still be tested and any employer will expect some interaction in the form of questions from you.
So, before you go and start asking your potential employer some carefully thought out questions about their company and the role, here are some examples of the best questions to ask and the ones to avoid.
Don’t ask: Do you have flexible working arrangements or can I work from home?
It may be tempting to ask this question, particularly if you have a tough commute or kids to drop off and pick up, however the interview is not the time to ask this. You should know the working arrangements and the hours of the position in advance of the interview. There are other ways in order to get a steer on working arrangements in the future.
Do ask: What is the company like to work for?
Here you are asking a broad question which can cover company culture, work arrangements, flexibility and retention. Getting to know a potential work environment is important in determining if you will be comfortable there and to gauge expectations. Here you will find out the level of professionalism, the interviewer’s enthusiasm for the business and important aspects of the job, like flexible working arrangements.
Don’t ask: How soon do people get promoted?
If you want to improve your chances of being recruited, asking how soon you are likely to get a promotion or raise is not the best question at interview. Firstly, how can your new employer know since you don’t work there at this point and they haven’t seen your performance or capability? It also projects a sense of entitlement that could be off-putting to an employer.
Do ask: What are the expectations of the role for the first 90 days?
A better job interview question to ask would be about the 30, 60 and 90-day expectations for the role. If you receive this information upfront, you will know whether you are meeting or exceeding the company’s expectations after you have worked there for a while. You can then use that knowledge for any performance evaluations or promotion talks later on. You will hear talk of development in this answer which will show you how soon you can expect a step up.
Don’t ask: What will my salary be?
It is extremely important to negotiate your starting salary. However, firstly, the role will have been advertised at a salary level and secondly, you should only approach this question if asked. Salary negotiation usually comes at the job offer stage and at that point everyone’s expectations have been discussed. Plus, your interviewer might not actually know the answer.
Do ask: What direction is the company headed in the next five to ten years?
A good question to ask in an interview is about the company’s short and long-term growth plans. It shows your potential employer that you have a strong interest in being part of the company. This question could also reveal whether or not there are opportunities for growth, promotion and salary improvements.
Don’t ask: How did the company start?
You don’t want to ask about the company’s origin story, competitors, products or anything else that you could and should have already researched. You will only come off as unprepared.
Do ask: What do you enjoy about working here?
A good question to ask at the end of an interview is what your interviewer thinks of the company. By asking about their favourite aspect of working there, you will get an invaluable insight into the culture and demands of the job.