Questions you should ask would-be employers
If you asked anyone what it’s like to have a job interview they will tell you how nerve racking it is, along with how many and what questions you’ll get asked. However, what most people forget to tell you is how important it is to also ask questions of your own.
What most people fail to realise is that a job interview is not just about answering questions, and you must ask questions of your own to make sure you’re completely happy with your potential employer.
Although the emphasis is usually on giving an excellent interview to get the job in the first place, you have to remember that you could be working in this role for the next few years, and you don’t want to be in the position of having to find another job after a few months if there is something you’re not happy with.
The perfect time to ask your own questions is at the end of the interview. Here is our list of the top 7 questions to ask at an interview that will impress your prospective employers:
What is the atmosphere and work culture like here?
It’s important to know what the atmosphere is like in any work place before you accept the job. Is it crowded, lively, quiet, energetic, fun etc…?
You may sometimes be fortunate enough to get shown around the workplace during the interview, which gives you a great opportunity to find out if this suits you or not. If this happens try to take note of the people and their surroundings. Do they look happy, busy, tired, stressed, energetic, over-worked, or even lazy?
If you don’t get the chance to see inside the work place, then you’re going to have to listen very carefully to how the employer responds to this question. For example, do they seem happy to answer it and reply with what seems like honest and confident answers? Or do they go a little quiet and shy away from the question?
If it’s the latter, then it could mean something is wrong in which case you’re going to have to make up your own mind using the information you have. It’s also worth noting that for large companies you may have the option of going online and finding important information to help with your decision.
What are the most and least enjoyable parts to this role?
Most employers may be reluctant to give you any honest answers as to the least enjoyable parts of the job, but it’s still worth a try. If you can get a feel for the daily demands of the role, this should give you a better understanding of whether it’s the right job for you.
And again, if they seem quite reluctant to offer any downsides to the role no matter how small they may be, then are they giving you the whole truth? Of course, most roles shouldn’t really have any downsides to them, so you are hopefully just looking for any busy periods and spikes in work load that require extra hours. This is quite common in any role, and to be expected.
Does the company provide any training?
Training is one of the most important factors to consider before accepting any job. If you don’t get the adequate training required to perform well, then your motivation to learn and succeed is going to be much harder.
The amount of training required comes down to the job you are applying for, and in some cases you may only need a little. However, you still need to be confident that they are offering this basic training and are happy to reassure you during the interview.
Don’t be afraid to ask in case they think you are going to be difficult to work with. Asking about training is a very sensible question, and if they are not willing to give you a reasonable answer, then they may not be a very good company to work for.
Any decent company should be able to provide you with reassurance and explain exactly how training works, and that a plan is already in place for whoever gets the job.
Would I have the chance to be promoted and further my career?
If you’re ambitious and don’t want to be stuck in the same job for years to come, it’s important to know whether or not this particular role will allow you to progress and move up the ladder.
Don’t be pressurised into accepting a job if you know there is little or no chance of promotion. It will only make you unhappy in the end, and precious time will have been wasted when you could have been working for another company and have already made Assistant Manager!
You do also have to be careful when asking this question to make sure you don’t come across to aggressive or demanding. The employer may be worried that you’re going to be changing roles the minute you get there, so it’s important to be subtle and make them aware it’s something you’d be interested in looking at a few years down the line.
How will my performance be measured and reviewed?
Unfortunately there are still companies out there that don’t give regular appraisals, and have little or no contact with their staff. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to work for a company like this, so it’s important you find out how they interact with their employees.
A monthly appraisal should be the minimum offered, along with any ongoing feedback by your superior. This then allows you to progress and reach your full potential within the role and to also receive recognition when it’s due, as this is important for your morale levels.
Try to also find out how your performance is tracked so you can get a better understanding of what they’re looking for. Without this, you may find yourself drifting within the role and with little focus.
Do you think I’m suited to this position?
You have to be careful when asking this question as it’s a very bold move, but if you feel the timing is right and the interview went well, then why not!
Don’t be afraid of taking bold steps when it comes to job interviews, and it’s important to show how keen and passionate you are about the role. If you did a great interview and your credentials are suitable, then you should hopefully get a positive response to this question.
However, if there are any doubts from the interviewers then this gives you a great opportunity to defend yourself and quash any of these doubts. After every interview the managers will always discuss your strengths and weaknesses and then make a decision. If you’re able to take the initiative and help with any doubts they have before they make the decision, then you are already one step ahead of the competition.
It is important to remember though that you cannot in any way be aggressive when asking this question. You need to come across sincere and that you’re genuinely trying to help with their decision. Any aggression from your part will alienate them immediately and your chance will be gone.
Where do you see the company in 5 years time?
This is a great question to end with as it shows you are interested in the company. Before you ask this question, you could also start by talking a little bit about the company to show them that you’ve done your research beforehand.
For example, you might say something like, “I noticed that the company’s profits have increased by 10% over the last 3 years, so I can clearly see why you’re expanding. Where do you see the company in 5 years time?”
Questions to ask at an interview: conclusion
Make sure you take a notepad and pen in with you so you can keep track of the answers to these questions, and to also take note of anything else you feel is important during the interview. This will instantly show how much you care about the interview and the role itself.
Overall, most interviews can be a little awkward and don’t always go very well. However, if you end the interview with some or all of these questions, then it will certainly end on a high and leave a lasting impression.
- The Guardian’s guides to job interviews
- National Careers Service – preparing for an interview
- Reed’s articles on preparing for and acing a job interview
- Choose from our 94 free Word CV templates