The four best questions to ask at interviews (and the ones to avoid!)

At the end of a job interview there’s nothing worse than the panel asking a potential employee if they have any questions they would like to ask and being met with “uhhhhmmm I don’t think so!”

It suggests the candidate hasn’t researched the business properly and isn’t fully invested in the company. In a way, you are also interviewing the company too, so it’s important to take time to think about what you want to learn during the recruitment process.

Here are some of the best questions you can ask an interview panel (and the worst!)

What training opportunities do you offer?

This is a great way to find out how a business invests in its people and develops their skills. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific examples of training courses or programmes they have put employees on.

What do you love about working here?

This question provides genuine insight into the workplace culture and what their employees find rewarding. Alternative questions to this are “how would you describe the company culture?” or “can you describe a typical day in this role / company?”

I’ve seen you’ve recently launched a new product / service, can you tell me more about it and what it means for the company’s growth / for this role?

Asking this shows you have not only done your research, but are genuinely interested in how their development of new products and services impacts the business’ long term plans and the role you are applying for.

What are the priorities for this role in the first six months?

The answer to this will give you a clear insight on what is expected to be achieved in the short term and give you another opportunity to sell yourself by demonstrating how your experience can help achieve those priorities.

Now for the questions to avoid…

How long do I get for my lunch break / how much holiday do I get?

No one wants to interview a candidate who only appears interested in their break time! Once the job is offered the company will explain their working hours and patterns to you, so avoid asking this at interview stage. Benefits like holiday pay are often advertised with vacancy, so asking this at interview could suggest you haven’t carefully read the job description, and again, it suggests you are more interested in your time away from the company than with it. It is important to have a clear picture of the employee benefits a company offers, but usually these are discussed and negotiated when employment is offered rather than at interview stage.

How easy is it to move into other departments?

Whilst employers will be keen to hear that a prospective employee is invested in a long career and progression within their company, asking this question suggests the role and department you are applying for isn’t of full interest to you. Do consider asking about career progression opportunities, but be careful with how you phrase it.

What are your personal career plans for the next five years?

At the start of this blog, we did say you are also interviewing the company, but it is just that; the company and not individuals. Asking the panel their personal plans isn’t relevant to the role you are applying for and could appear nosy.

How did I do? Was I what you were expecting?

This will put recruiters on the spot and most likely lead to vague statements that won’t be helpful for you. The appropriate time to request feedback is once you have been contacted post-interview after the panel has had time to reflect back on your answers. Instead, you could ask if there is anything else the panel would like to ask you to ensure everything you have to offer has been covered.

If you would like more guidance on interview techniques, contact James Newbury Appointments today.

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