One of the most important parts of the interview is the end, when you have the opportunity to impress your interviewer by asking thoughtful, informed questions. But it can be hard to know what to ask—and what not to. It can be helpful to prepare a list of at least five questions before your interview. Ideally, these questions will not only showcase your interest in the company but also give you information about whether the role is a good fit for you. Here are some of the best questions to ask in an interview.
1. What qualities would make an ideal candidate for this role?
Asking this question not only demonstrates that you care about what the company values but also enables you to learn what the employer is really looking for in a candidate. If the interviewer mentions a skill you have not referenced yet, now is your opportunity to express how you have demonstrated that quality in the past and how you would continue to do so in this role.
2. Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
You have already read the job description and determined this role to be a good fit, but job descriptions often define the duties of a role in generalized, vague terms. Before you accept a job, it is crucial for you to learn what your actual day would look like in the role. You’ll want to learn about the specific types of projects you’ll be working on, if you’ll be making calls all day, and if you’ll spend the majority of your time in meetings or alone at your desk. These are important factors that could make or break your decision to accept a job.
3. Can you describe the company culture?
Once you have confirmed that the actual duties of the role align with your interests and skills, you should ask about the work atmosphere. Even if you like the actual work you’re doing for a company, the culture can have a huge influence on whether you enjoy your role—or not. Factors such as whether the work environment is competitive or laid-back could greatly influence your experience at work, depending on your personality and what you are looking for in an employer.
4. How did you get started in your role?
This question allows you to connect with your interviewer on a personal level and demonstrate your interest in his or her individual experience at the company. It directs attention away from you to your interviewer, which is a strategic way to end your interview, as most people love talking about themselves. By asking this question, you can gain insight into why the interviewer chose this firm over others, which will be valuable to you later if you face a similar decision. You can also learn about the interviewer’s growth path within the company, which may inform you as to the typical trajectory for internal mobility at the firm.
5. What are the next steps in the interview process?
While it may seem a little awkward, you should definitely ask this question at the end of your interview. It will demonstrate that you are serious about the position and are taking the initiative to try to advance in the hiring process. Apart from the general peace of mind it offers you, the answer to this question will reveal important information about the timeline for the hiring decision, which may influence your follow-up approach. It is in your best interest to be as informed as possible both going into the interview and exiting it, to have the best possible chance at landing the job.
Having a well-crafted résumé is only half the battle when it comes to the job search. The other half involves the job interview, and while the ability to convey your skills to others is helpful, building a rapport with your interviewer is just as essential to getting the job.
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In this edition of Shaping the Future of STEM, incoming college intern Allison Huckins, who is majoring in chemical engineering at Michigan State University, interviews Yen Ling Low, divisional vice president of Scientific and Medical Affairs for Abbott Nutrition Research and Development. Listen as Yen Ling and Allison discuss pursuing your passion for STEM in the professional world.