Asking Questions in an Interview

While an interview is a chance for a company to get to know you and your skills, it is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company and the role you’re interviewing for. After all, you want to work at a company that is a good fit for your personality, career goals, and work style, right?  In addition to finding out if this company is the right place for you, asking questions shows that you came prepared and are actually interested in working there. This article from The Muse cites recruiter Angela Smith explaining, “If an applicant doesn’t have any questions for me, that’s a red flag. I’m thinking that they either don’t care or can’t be bothered to do research about my company.” Therefore, make sure to do your pre-interview research!

During the interview, more questions will likely pop into your head, but it’s a good idea to have a few prepared. That being said, make sure you’re not too focused on forming questions during an interview that you stop paying attention to what the interviewer is saying; they might answer some of your questions along the way! Also, you don’t want to stump your interviewer with difficult or confusing questions. Keep your questions specific, but open-ended (avoid yes or no questions). This will give the interviewer a chance to dive deeper with their answers!

interview
An interview is a chance for you and the interviewer to learn more about each other! Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

I’ve broken down the types of questions to ask in an interview into four sections: about the company, role-specific, interviewer’s personal experiences, and next steps. These are by no means the only questions you can ask during an interview; they are just a few ideas to get you started!

About the Company

Team culture, work-life balance, and diversity of a company are all important aspects to consider when deciding which company to work for. You are going to be spending a good chunk of your week there, so you need to ensure that you’re going to like where you are! While there are a plethora of questions you can ask about the company, here are a few ideas.

  • How would you describe the culture of (insert company name)?
  • What values are most important to the company?
  • What are the company’s long-term goals and plans to achieve those goals? (Tailor this one based on the company: Are they developing new products, expanding into new markets, growing specific teams/departments within their company, etc.)
  • What are the company’s current goals and how does the team support those goals?
  • Would you describe the work environment as more collaborative or independent?
  • Does the company have any diversity and inclusion initiatives or networks?
  • Do employees participate in any team events outside of work?
DC_trek
Company culture is an important factor to consider when interviewing! CWIB visited Custom Ink on the D.C. Trek, a company that’s known to have a great culture. Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

Role-Specific

It may seem obvious to many of you, but you want to ask questions about the specific role you applied for in an interview. Many interviewers give a rundown of the role at the beginning of an interview so some of your questions might get answered. Here are a few questions to ask if you find yourself wanting more information about the work you’ll be doing

  • What kinds of projects would I be working on?
  • What projects have interns/associates worked on in the past?
  • What would the training process be like?
  • What are the main technologies/software/platforms I would be working with?
  • What skills do I need to excel in this role?
  • What would a typical day in this role look like?

 

Interviewer’s Experience

The interviewer’s own experiences can be a great wealth of information to tap into during an interview. They are a professional in an industry you aspire to work in, so they have some nuggets of wisdom to share. Asking your interviewer questions about their experiences will also build rapport and show that you value their perspective. Here are a few questions you could ask your interviewer about their career.

  • How long have you been with (insert company name)?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face as an (insert specific role) in the (insert industry)?
  • Has your role changed since you’ve been with the company?
  • What is your favorite part about working at the company?
  • What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in this industry/role?
powerpanel
Don’t be afraid to pick your interviewer’s brain! Learning about their career journey and experience with the company can give you a lot of insight. Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

Next Steps

If the interviewer doesn’t explicitly explain, you might want to ask about the next steps in the interview process. Asking questions like these will show that you’re still interested in the internship or job after the conversation you just had.

  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • Will there be another round of interviews?
  • What is the timeline for the selection process?
  • Do you have any concerns about my background being a good fit for the role? (This might be a scary one to ask, but it gives you the chance to put the interviewer’s concerns at ease and gives you valuable feedback for the future.)

 

Hopefully, these interview questions were helpful in offering some ideas on how to get the most out of your interviews. Some questions cannot be answered on the internet, so don’t be shy to ask the genuine questions you want to be answered about the company! Good luck interviewing this spring!

 

By: Allison DeSantis

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