The Art of Asking Questions during a Job Interview

Asking ‘sensible’ questions that drill down to your potential employer’s bottom line can make the difference between being offered the job or missing out. Remember, it’s a two-way process (inter + view). You’ll need the answers too…

Read on to gain an insight into how you should form and craft your questions.

The ideal format for an interview is like a conversation, however, based on the structure and layout a great deal of organisations adhere to, the majority of questions are expected to come at the end.
As the interview begins, it’s a good idea to ask the interviewer if you can ask questions at any time. If the answer is yes, take advantage of this by highlighting any queries you may have that can expand on the information given. Not only could this help the connection between you and the interviewer, but it demonstrates your interest in the role and gives your personality a chance to shine.

Keeping in mind the framing and timing of your questions, you should ask the employer to clarify or explain in more detail anything you’re unsure of – this is a great way to show that you are listening. For example, “You mentioned earlier that…”

Inquiring about an issue will also fuel further discussion and give you a clearer idea of whether this role is right for you. You may find that working in this particular organisation wouldn’t suit you after all – interviewers use the process for this reason so why shouldn’t you?

Asking about the assessment process isn’t usually necessary. The interview stages are normally spelled out to you but if you have not been made aware of them, it is a good idea to ask how many there are, what is assessed exactly and who participates: showing a keen interest will emphasise your enthusiasm for the role and if you approach the question in a non-challenging manner, the interviewer’s answer should give you a better feel for the things they are looking for in a successful candidate.

Delivering questions about opportunities for development in a professional manner are a good idea and show that you see yourself in the organisation long-term. You are likely to be faced with that ever familiar question, ‘Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years time?’ Try turning the question on its head and ask where they see the role going. What have they achieved in that same time frame? Ensure that they understand how committed you would be to this role. Their answer will also give you an idea of their attitude towards employees and how much they are willing to invest in them.

A job interview should be viewed as a business meeting where you (the potential employee) are selling your skills to a potential buyer (the employer). As with any meeting, the questions you ask can really reveal a lot about your motivation, what value you can bring and how in touch you are with solving the employer’s problem.

Most people are not trained to interview. It’s actually very difficult to interview in a consistent way that helps you to sell yourself, so your questions can help steer the conversation back to you and what you can bring to the role.

You might not feel entirely comfortable broaching particular subjects with a potential employer; you may gauge from their demeanour something that would not be considered an appropriate question. If you feel the need to craft your questions to suit your needs, then do so. If not managed the right way, some questions could come across as slightly confrontational but if you’ve carried out the right amount of preparation and research into the type of organisation they are, you should have no problems using your questions to better your performance and overall success.

For more tips and advice on interview techniques, book a one to one career consultation with one of our experts.