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What questions should you ask in an interview?

30 Aug

At Fire, Inc. we are well aware that one of the hardest parts of any interview comes near the end.  It’s when the interviewer steps back  and finishes with, “Do you have any questions?”

The situation can be a little frightening, especially since this is one of chances that the job candidate has to show that they are smart, focused, and actually interested in the position.

But more than that, this is a chance for the candidate to figure out if this is really a position that they are interested in.  After all, an interview is as much for the candidate as it is for the interviewer.

But what kind of questions should you ask?

One particularly difficult question to ask is, “do you have any concerns with my ability to excel in this role?”  As a candidate, you don’t particularly want to bring up anything negative about yourself, but at the same time this question gives you a chance to bring up any potential issues they might have with your application while you’re still within the room to defend yourself.  It’s an opportunity to share more about yourself that might not be clear on your resume, and it gives you a chance to better understand the nature of the position.

Much of your day-to-day stress and responsibility depends on who, exactly, is managing you. Because of this, it makes excellent sense to ask the interviewer about the management style of your potential manager.  Not only are you illustrating that you are a thoughtful potential employee, but you should also be able to better feel out whether or not this is the best position for you.

Another great question is, “if you could change one thing about the company culture, what would it be?”  Essentially this question helps you to figure out if there is anything actually wrong with the company, without coming right out and asking that.

Perhaps the best question, by far, is to ask about the history of the position itself.  You can word it a couple of different ways, from “why is this position vacant?” to “what happened to the last person who held this job?” or “what were the strengths and weaknesses of the person who held this job before this?”

What you are finding out with that question is essentially whether there are any unseen problems with the position you are being interviewed for, perhaps whether there is a large amount of turnover or whether there isn’t a lot of chance for advancement.

Whatever you do, however, make sure that you have some questions ready for the interviewer, even if it’s only “is there any part of my application you would like more information about?”  It’s your last best chance to impress the interviewer, and to decide whether you would take the position if it was offered.

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