At the end of every interview, it’s S.O.P. for employers to ask “Do you have any questions for me?” And if there’s one wrong answer to that question, it’s “Nope, none at all.”
See, an interview is basically a conversation. It’s an opportunity for employers to get to know you, and it works the other way around too. When you ask questions that are thoughtful, surprising and show genuine interest in them, employers are more likely to want to get you on board. After all, you wouldn’t want to get on board with a company that interviews you with generic, uninspired questions, would you?
So, if you want to stand out from other applicants, here’s how to “interview” your interviewer.
- How does the company measure success in this particular role?
By asking about metrics right off the bat, you show that you’re goal-oriented, and unafraid to be accountable for the work you do. Also, the answer will tell you whether your ideas about success match up with the company’s. If it does, you won’t have much trouble hitting the day-to-day goals; if it doesn’t, you’re better off finding another company that’s more of a cultural fit for you.
- What sets your most successful employees apart from the rest?
Of course, success isn’t just about hitting the metrics. It’s also about having a certain combination of qualities — or the “X Factor,” if you will — that differentiate star performers from average employees. By asking about those qualities, you tell your interviewer “Hey, I want to be successful with your company too.”
- What challenges or setbacks should I expect in this role?
This question doesn’t just acknowledge that no job is smooth-sailing. It also suggests that you have the foresight to anticipate and prepare for problems when they come. And, as Boris Groysberg writes in the Harvard Business Review, “strategic foresight” is a handy skill to have in the C-suite.
- What’s the best and worst part of working in this company?
Now this is one question that puts your interviewer in the hot seat. Naturally, you’ll expect your interviewer to highlight the positives and downplay the negatives of their job.
Still, if you can read between the lines, their answers can be pretty telling. If they say something like “No, this company has no cons at all,” it’s better to take that with a grain of salt. After all, even Fortune 500 companies have their cons.
- If I get this job, how can I help you address your most pressing needs?
According to the experts at Farr, this is the best question you can ask at an interview, because it shows that you’re concerned about the company beyond the perks and benefits they offer. It also saves you the effort of figuring out what goals, tasks and projects to prioritize once you hit the ground running.
- What is the company’s customer service philosophy?
It’s one thing to read about it on the company’s website, and another to hear it straight from an actual employee. If an interviewer can clearly explain what their customer service philosophy is all about, and give specifics on how it’s practiced in the company’s day-to-day operations, you can assume that their company has the integrity to walk the talk.
- How does this role contribute to fulfilling company goals?
From an interviewer’s point of view, this is a refreshing question, because it suggests that you’re interested in more than paychecks and punched clocks. If you understand that your role is important no matter how small it seems, you’re more likely to go above the bare minimum in your day-to-day work.
- Is this a good place for someone with a growth mindset?
According to Inc.com, this is the one tough question you must ask in any interview. While it’s debatable if it’s the question that’ll singlehandedly land you the job, it’s still worth asking for a couple of reasons.
First, like the previous question, it tells an interviewer that you’re serious about becoming more than an average employee. After all, people with growth mindsets always ask themselves “What can I do today so I can be better tomorrow?”
Second, it helps you get a feel for the company’s culture. If it encourages employees to go beyond their job descriptions, or even rock the boat when necessary, you’ll know there’s unlimited potential for growth within that company. If it doesn’t, that’s still okay — but only if you have a so-called “fixed mindset.”
- Do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications?
Understandably, interviewers won’t be forthright about what they think of you during the interview proper. They’ll probably raise an eyebrow at what you say, or follow up your answers with impromptu questions, but otherwise they’ll keep their expressions neutral.
That’s why it’s important that you ask this question. Not only will it reveal areas of improvement that you’ll want to work on for future interviews, but it also indicates that you’re open to feedback. Plus, as difficult as it is to receive constructive criticism, employers always appreciate anyone who can do that.
These aren’t the only questions you can ask employers. If it’s something you can’t easily look up on Google, or is essentially indicative of how interested you are in the company and what you can do for them, ask away. Use the “Do you have any questions?” question as an opportunity to know as much as you can before you sign the dotted line.