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HR experts reveal questions job candidates should be asking in interviews (and 3 to skip)

Job hunters spend hours before a big job interview researching the company, looking up online company ratings and kununu reviews, and even writing out scripted responses to questions they might be asked. Yet, in every industry there’s one simple interview question where most people’s minds’ go blank …

“Do you have any questions for me?”

The employee questions portion of the job interview shifts the hiring manager into the hot seat. This time is the job candidate’s best opportunity to learn if the position is a good fit for them. Yet, most of us  freeze or stumble over a few filler questions to quickly wrap up the conversation or out of fear of asking something inappropriate and offending the interviewer.

But according to professional recruiters and HR experts, the questions you ask play a large part in their decision process by providing insight into a candidate’s genuine interest in the role and their own career priorities.

We asked hiring managers and recruiters to reveal most important interview questions candidates should be asking during a job interview and here’s what they said:

Questions hiring experts want candidates to ask (and three you should skip):

1. Steve Pritchard, HR Consultant at giffgaff

Above all, Pritchard urged candidates to focus their questions around their long term career goals.

“How do you plan to measure success in this role?”

Asking this question will give the interviewee an insight into what they will be judged against, which will then help them to gauge whether they would be a good fit for the role or not.

If you are applying for a job that has two major responsibilities – one of which you are very keen on pursuing as a career path and one you are less interested in – you should find out which responsibility will be your primary focus. If it turns out that your field of interest in the basis for the majority of work, it’s a good bet you will fit into this role, very well.

“What does a career path look like in this role, in this company?”

“Many people don’t ask this for fear of sounding like they are running before they can walk. This question will give the interviewer a sense that you aren’t planning on just getting a year’s experience and then jumping ship – you are looking for a long-term position and to develop within that company. It will also show that you are ambitious and aren’t looking for a role that you can just plod along in for the next few years. If you are looking for a job that offers advancement opportunities, you must ask this question before accepting an offer – you don’t want to start a job only to find out that there’s no room for promotion, pay rises or progression.”

2. Christine Chung,  Senior Talent Manager at Fueled

As an HR expert at a recruiting technology company, Chung believes you should use your questions to get a general timeline of the responsibilities and career path the position offers.

“What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days, year?”

[This question] gives you an awesome bird’s eye view of the role before you even start.

“This question will give the interviewer a sense that you aren’t planning on just getting a year’s experience and then jumping ship – you are looking for a long-term position and to develop within that company. It will also show that you are ambitious and aren’t looking for a role that you can just plod along in for the next few years. If you are looking for a job that offers advancement opportunities, you must ask this question before accepting an offer – you don’t want to start a job only to find out that there’s no room for promotion, pay rises or progression.”

“What are some of your greatest strategic challenges in the next 2-3 years?”

“You’ll be surprised at how honest your interviewers can be with this question. You can get a lot of information on what the organization/team’s greatest pain points are.”

3. Sean Killian, Operations Team Lead at Enola Labs Software

Recruiter Sean Killian encourages job hunters not to shy away from the so-called “risky” questions addressing possible gaps and weaknesses.

“Is there anything about my background or what we’ve discussed here today that would make you hesitant to offer me the position?”

“This is a great closing question. It allows another opportunity to elaborate on any reservations the interviewer might have related to the candidate. It shows assertiveness, maturity and a desire to clear up any potential misunderstandings that may prevent employment.”

4. Paige NeJame, Owner of CertaPro Painters

Entrepreneur and Business owner had a similar approach to tackling taboo topics in questions, especially when it comes to salary.
“People are so afraid to talk about money, but this is a job, not a hobby after all.” All interviewers understand that money matters, so don’t hesitate before asking…

“How much can I expect to make in this job?”

5. Michael O’Leary, CEO of HRMRecruit

Recruiting leader Michael O’Leary thinks the best way for job seekers to get the “full picture” of the position they’re interviewing for is to prepare specific questions interviewers in different departments who can offer unique perspectives on different areas of the company culture.

“Your questions might vary depending on who you are interviewing with. A line manager might tell you more about the problem that this hire needs to address. An HR team member may be able to share more about the overall organizational culture and what type of person works out well for the company. A CEO or other senior leader can explain what the future of the organization looks like and what part you can play in that future.”

“Who is the manager that I would be working for and how would you describe their style of management?”

“And what is the structure of the department?”

And now that you know what career experts want to hear from you, what questions do they think candidates should avoid at all costs?

The questions you SHOULDN’T ask:

1. Anything vague or not specific to the role

“Avoid yes or no questions, or questions that are so broad that they are difficult to promptly give answers to. You don’t want to jam up a conversation with too much silence or awkwardness.”

– Christine Chung – Senior Talent Manager, Fueled

2. Anything you should already know

“Avoid asking questions to which you could have easily found the answers elsewhere, the company’s website for example, and make sure the questions are of genuine interest to you, it will be easily apparent if it’s not.”

– Michael O’Leary, CEO – HRMRecruit

3. No question at all

Almost every expert agreed that the one thing job seekers should avoid doing during the closing questions portion of the interview is stay silent. Your first instinct might be to flatter your interviewer by telling them they’ve answered everything. However, this is actually the worst thing you can do and may give the hiring team the impression that you’re indifferent to learning about the position.
“No, I have no questions”, is a missed opportunity to find out more about the position, the company and the industry. Take this time to find out if this is the right job for you.”

– Michael O’Leary, CEO – HRMRecruit

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So at the end of your next job interview, ask for the answers you want.

This article was originally published on Kununu.com.

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