How to ask your questions at an interview

An interview isn’t just for a company to decide if they want you, it’s for you to decide if you want the company. It’s important you ask good questions to help you make that decision.

A bad question

“Do you enjoy your job?”

This is bad question because it’s closed. It encourages “yes” or “no” answers.

There’s some problems with closed questions in an interview:

  • The answer doesn’t require specific examples. You might get an answer which doesn’t give any reasons or evidence, which doesn’t help you decide.
  • You’re different to the interviewer. Their reasons for enjoying their job might not be reasons you’d enjoy a job.
  • You may not get an entirely honest answer because the company is trying to sell itself.

Other closed questions include: “do you learn much in your job?”, “do you work long hours?”.

Some better questions

A better question is open. It invites specific examples in the answer. Here’s some suggestions:

  • “What are you working on now? How does it fit into the company mission?”
  • “What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you enjoy least?”
  • “Tell me about your relationship with your line manager. How do they support you?”
  • “What was the last change you made to improve the way you work?”
  • “When was the last time you had to work late? Why?”
  • “What was the last mistake you made? What happened as a result?”
  • “When was the last time you learn something? How did you go about learning it?”
  • “When was the last time you and your team celebrated? What were you celebrating?”

Answers to these questions will be much more helpful when deciding if a company is the right fit for you.

The interviewer may enjoy their job, but their reasons for enjoying it may not be the same reasons you’d enjoy a job. They may have made a mistake recently, but it wasn’t a problem because they fixed it quickly. They might have been working late all week because their boss said they’ll be fired if they don’t meet a deadline.

Write your questions and their answers down. The stress of an interview can easily cause you to forget the questions you prepared or to forget their answers once you leave the interview.

Is the company right for you?

Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list of questions.

Your questions will depend on what’s important to you. Prepare your questions in advance . Think about what you want to know about the company. Think about what will help you decide if you want to take the job.

Their answers will help you decide if the company is right for you.

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