Top 10 Questions For Students & Grads To Ask During An Interview

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So you’ve applied for the job, and surprise! They call you back instructing you to come in for an interview Monday morning.

You sit down and answer their questions with just the right amount of charming professionalism that shows how great a candidate you are. Everything seems to be going fine until that unexpected moment: “Do you have any questions for us?”

You were so prepared! Or so you thought. As much as job interviews are about the employer assessing your potential with the company, interviews are also an opportunity for you to do your own assessment. By asking the right questions there’s potential for seriously impressing prospective employers. Here are our top ten questions to ask during an interview, curetted with the help of veteran HR professional Ruth Estwick.

1. What’s the biggest issue currently facing the company, and how will my role contribute to solving it?

“This question shows you’ve thought about how your role would contribute to the current challenges,” says Estwick. It also shows potential employers that not only are you a team player; it allows them to envision you working at the organization. This question also gives the employer the opportunity to ask what you would do to help solve the issue, and you the chance to give the rehearsed statement you lovingly tore your hair out over, preparing in the days prior. It shows you’re interested in operations specific to the company, and are willing to start right away.

2. What projects is this position expected to undertake in the near future? And how are these projects linked to the strategic priorities of the organization?

This one’s a two parter. These fit together well because it shows the candidate is interested in what direction the company’s heading in, and what that means as to your role you could be playing. It also gives you the opportunity to flex those situational muscles and discuss your strategies on how you would go about the job – but only if the employer sets you up for such a response. Not only does this show what organizational skills you have, but it also gives you a glimpse into the type of work you could be doing. Remember to only offer strategies if asked to, unsolicited advice can come off as pushy.

3. What organizational trait does the company value most?

This allows you to connect with a potential employer on a personal level. It allows them to reflect on their time at the company, and gives you insight into what employees at the particular organization hold in high esteem. “By asking this, the candidate shows that the type of work environment they’ll be apart of is important to them,” says Estwick. It provides a better understanding of the everyday workflow and is the type of question that portrays you as a caring, team player. Not a bad trait to be recognized for.

4. What does success look like at this company?

Here’s an opportunity to figure out whether your expectations for personal success and satisfaction are in line with what the company defines as success. “It is not just a job to a candidate who asks this question. It means the candidate is interested in what it takes to be successful at this organization,” says Estwick. This question gives insight to the type of work performance the employer expects their employees to meet on a consistent basis. Don’t be afraid to let your personal definition of success change over time. Depending on the type of work you’re applying for, success will look different.

5. Is this a newly created position?

You now have potential insight to how an employer views and reacts to change. If it is a new position, it allows the employer to explain why it was needed. If it’s an established role in the company, they’re able to explain why it’s currently vacant. Such a question gives insight your future at the company, and how your role could evolve as company goals shift over time. Keep in mind; the direction in which you see the company going in could be the opposite of what happens. Be pragmatic when starting out.

6. What style of leadership fits the culture of this company?

Here you can find out about whom you’ll report to and just how you’ll report to them. Whether or not management is spread out or a more vertical chain of command is set in place. You’ll be able to deduce to just how closely, or not, you’ll be working with your superiors. Also just because you’ve never worked under a certain style of leadership, doesn’t mean its bad; get used to working with different types of people.

7. If hired, what type of phase will I be joining the company in?

This is another gutsy question, for the fact that it’s hypothetical and the employer might not know what phase they’ll be in three months from now. But whether it’s continued growth within the current market, or expansion into another, any answer given can offer insight to what type of work you could be doing if hired. If the answer isn’t what you expected, remember being versatile is key, the more assets you have at your disposal, the more opportunities you’ll find for employment.

8. What is the next step in this process?

Asking this question, allows the interviewer to picture you as a potential employee, as well it shows that you’re serious about the position and are already looking ahead to how you could potentially impact the company. This question is also all about timing. For example, asking this towards the end of an interview, after the interviewer has gotten to know you, is better than asking such a question at the very beginning.

9. If you had two words to describe what it’s like working here, what would you select?

“This shows once again that you are looking to find the right fit for you and that it’s not just a paycheck,” says Estwick. This question can help establish a dialogue between you, the candidate, and the potential employer. It allows them to also ask or follow up on why you wish to work the organization.

10. What do you enjoy most about working here?

Everyone who loves working at the company will be delighted you asked this question. If it’s a great place to work you’ll quickly know. This gives you a chance to find out more about the benefits of the job, without sounding ignorant or rude.

What’s your personal go-to interview question? Tell us in the comments!

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