Congratulations, you made it through the stressful and challenging process of answering all of the questions in your job interview. You nailed the “What is your biggest accomplishment?” question and smacked the “Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with your boss?” question right out of the ball park. Finally, you can breathe again.
But don’t take that huge sigh of relief just yet because your job isn’t quite done. An employer will typically allow candidates to ask questions of their own at the end of an interview and this window of opportunity provides you the job seeker with a great chance to:
- learn more about the position,
- evaluate whether the organization is a good fit and,
- impress the interviewer by looking prepared and asking intelligent questions.
Too often, job seekers barely think about what questions to ask at the end of an interview, but this part of the process is critical to helping you determine whether this is a job you actually want. So be smart about this and ensure that you come to the interview armed with some pre-loaded questions that will help you get the information you need to make an informed decision. Here are some questions that I typically ask at the end of employment interviews:
1) Can you tell me a bit about the culture of the organization and how the team functions?
This will be important to most job applicants. People should be interested in discerning the culture of a team or workplace so they can decide whether they can operate effectively in that environment. For example, I prefer a casual workplace so if the interviewer indicates to me that the organization has a strong corporate culture, it might cause me to reconsider the opportunity. Similarly, some people enjoy working independently so if the position is one on a highly collaborative, interdependent team, it might not be a great fit.
2) What is it about the organization that makes it a great place to work?
This question is similar to the first but is more open-ended and allows you to evaluate your preferred criteria for an organization against what this specific company offers. Part of this comes down to knowing what you are looking for. For instance, if work-life balance is important to you and the interviewer says the company offers flexible hours and doesn’t ask employees to work much overtime, this would be a positive sign. Alternatively, if the potential to make money is high on your priority list, you might not be able to do that in an organization that doesn’t offer overtime. I always ask this question because it helps me gauge what the employer’s competitive advantages are as well as what they do to recognize, value and retain their staff.
3) What are some of the challenges of the position?
This is a good one to ask because it can shine some light on some of the obstacles or difficulties you could face in the day-to-day functions of the role. Every job has its challenges, but asking this question at the beginning allows you to compare some of the challenges of the position against your own strengths and weaknesses as a professional. For example, if you are the type of person who thrives on routine and predictability but one of the difficult aspects of the job is that things often pop up unexpectedly and no two days are ever the same, you will want to ask yourself if the position is really right for you. Or, if you don’t thrive when working under pressure and the job comes with the stress of a heavy workload and competing deadlines, it might not be sustainable (i.e., it could cause you to burnout). Figuring out the challenges of a position (as best you can) ahead of time can save you valuable time and effort. There is no point in accepting a role for which you are set up for failure from the outset.
4) How does the organization support the professional development of its staff?
Some companies strongly value the ongoing development of their people and take steps or implement policies that provide support (financial or otherwise) for courses, training, workshops, or memberships to professional associations. Some other organizations don’t invest in these things at all. If improving and upgrading your skills is important to you as a professional, it is advisable to ask about this early. If the response you get is something like “what do you mean?” then the company likely doesn’t have much of a professional development program in place. People should be able to work for organizations that help them be the very best that they can be in their chosen field and a big part of that is figuring out whether the organization is willing to help with ongoing skill-building opportunities.
These are merely examples of questions you can ask at the end of an interview, but they won’t be relevant to everyone. Job seekers should reflect on what they want out of their careers and in a prospective employer in order to determine the most relevant questions to ask for their specific circumstances. Think about your past experience and the pros and cons of your previous employers to help you start brainstorming some possible questions for your next interview. Because you should always go to interviews with some prepared – it will help with how you are perceived and provide valuable insight as to whether the opportunity is right for you.
What are some of your favourite questions to ask at the end of an interview?