Asking questions at and after an interview is a great way to:

  • show you really are interested in the job and company
  • learn more about whether the job is really your “right fit” job
  • empower yourself so you appear confident – because confidence is attractive

What are the best questions to ask? Here are three I love.

In an interview:

1.  What’s the culture like here?  I love this question because it’s simple, direct, and extremely telling about a place. I find most of my clients want a specific kind of culture, and that’s one of the most important of their six Must Haves. If you ask about culture, you are signaling to the employer that you know culture “fit” is important. The answer you get to this question is going to help determine if you want the job. If they say they don’t know or that culture isn’t important, that is a big red flag.  It may be telling you they don’t really consider employees very much.  It may be saying they are a young or mom-n-pop or unsophisticated organization.  Just information for you to consider in your decision making.

2.  How would I know I was successful in this position after the first year? This is a great question to let them know that you care about impact, and a chance for them to articulate the real deal about the job. Just as most resumes articulate tasks performed instead of impact achieved, so too do most job descriptions describe what you are going to do instead of the impact you should have. So find out up front what the expectations will be.  You don’t want to take a job and then be completely surprised by expectations that weren’t articulated in the interview.  Many interviewers will be surprised by this question, which is a good thing. It makes you stand out.

After the interview:

3. What’s the status of your search, and my candidacy? Make sure you get the email address of at least the principal interviewer or someone in HR.  That way, if you haven’t heard back from the company in 5 business days, you can contact them with your question. It is not intrusive. It is you showing you want the job. Some people may counsel contacting them sooner or later than 5 days.  You have to make a judgment based on what they said in the interview. You do get to ask “what are next steps in your process?” in the interview.  Based on the response, you can gauge when you should be in touch. If they say “we’ll be contacting people in two weeks” and you haven’t heard in 2weeks, reach out! You have nothing to lose.