8 Standout Questions to Ask an Interviewer, and 3 to Avoid
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Being a freelancer can often be a constant cycle of interviews, since it’s likely that you’ll be juggling several clients and several jobs as once. And when one concludes, it’s up to you to come up with an impressive cover letter to accompany that equally awesome new proposal or pitch for a new job, and hope you get that call inviting you for yet another interview.
One thing that many of us fail to do when preparing for an interview is coming up with a list of questions to ask the interviewer. The question, “Do you have any questions?” is just as important as a common interview question like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Get ahead of the interview game. Here are some questions to ask the interviewer that will increase your chances of getting that job you’ve always wanted.
Why Are Questions Important in an Interview?
While job candidates often view an interview simply as an opportunity for them to impress a potential employer, it is actually a two-way street. You are trying to find out as much about the company as the company is trying to find out about you.
You can research everything you want from the company’s website and social media pages. However, nothing beats meeting a company’s representative in person, chatting with the people who work there and make important decisions, and discovering if the company is really a good fit for you.
So when you’re given the opportunity to ask an interviewer some questions, take the chance to find out whether the company is somewhere you can actually enjoy being a part of.
8 Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer
One of the biggest challenges of the interview process can be when hiring manager turns to you and asks, “So, do you have any questions for us?”
While it can be tempting to simply shake your head and conclude the interview, it can actually help you immensely if you come with a pre-prepared list of questions to ask the interviewer.
Asking the right questions tells the interviewer that you’re actually interested in the job, that you’re thoughtful, and most of all, could make a strong impression. And of course, depending on the answers you get, it can cement in your mind whether you really want to work there or not.
The following questions are some suggestions of what you could ask. Don’t feel like you need to ask every single question. You don’t want to leave your hiring manager remembering that you’re the one who prevented them from going home at the end of the day.
1. What Are the Next Steps in the Interview Process?
Not only is this helpful for you in your job search, as you’ll know approximately when you’ll receive a job offer (or not) and make plans accordingly, but it also shows that you’re interested and involved in the process. Finding out a rough timeline of the hiring process can also help you plan how you’ll approach your follow-up email.
2. Can You Tell Me About the Company Culture?
Whether you’re working as a freelancer or as an employee, it’s important to know if you’ll fit in. Understanding the type of work environment your potential employer is trying to create and knowing what they actually stand for will influence whether you even want to work for them or not.
Liking a company’s culture has the potential to provide you with an enjoyable time at work while not quite fitting in can make you less productive and efficient.
And just as much as you want to work in an environment that you like, your future employer will also be keen for the successful employee to get along with those already within the company, and further maintain the culture they’re trying to create.
3. What Is the Management Style Like?
When you find out about the company culture, you’ll probably get a bit of an idea of the management style of the company. However, don’t hesitate to ask this question, especially if you want to get a clearer picture of what it’s going to be like to work for your client and how they respond to conflict and problems.
4. What Type of Professional Development Opportunities Are There?
This question will give you an idea of just what kind of possibilities you’ll have to grow professionally within the company. It’ll also tell your hiring manager that you’re interested in a career path, not simply a job.
Many companies don’t actually offer professional development opportunities to freelancers and contractors, but it’s still an important question to ask. Find out whether they encourage professional development with their full-time employees as it’ll give you an idea of the company culture as well.
Also, asking the question not only gives the impression that you have initiative, but that you’re interested in improving your skill set.
5. Do You Have a Performance Review Process?
Closely related to the professional question above and perhaps more applicable for freelancers, since there’s a higher chance that companies will offer this to freelancers. So find out if performance reviews apply to freelancers, and if so, how often they’re conducted and who contributes to them.
Constructive feedback can go a long way in helping you do what you do, determining whether you need to change your style, improve in any way, or continue doing what you’re doing. Performance reviews are a fantastic indicator of how you’re doing within the company and whether they’re happy with what you’re doing so far.
When you ask this question, you’re telling the hiring manager that you’re not only willing to learn, but are interested in receiving feedback.
6. What’s a Typical Day Like for This Job?
Not everything about the job that you’re applying for or pitching for will appear in the job description. The answer to this question will give you a clearer understanding of what is actually expected from you. It can also help you determine if you actually have the right skills for the job. After all, what you imagine your day would be like based on the job description could be very different to what your client may want from you.
7. What’s the Company’s Future Like?
This is an important question to ask if you’re hoping to work for the company or keep them as a client for some time.
If the company’s growing, it could mean the potential of a promotion or more jobs in the future.
If the company’s planning a big move (to a different town or a different state), you’d probably want to know about this before accepting the job. While many freelance jobs allow you to work from home, some companies may still require you to come into the office occasionally, which may or may not be a dealbreaker if they move interstate.
Finding out the company’s plans for the future will also help you learn about the company’s strategy and focus for the next little while.
8. Why Do You Like Working Here?
It’s time to turn the tables on the interviewer and put the focus on them! The reason why you’d ask this question is to get a feel of whether it’s the right job for you. A slightly less than enthusiastic response may cause you to question if this is a place you want to work.
What to Avoid Asking an Interviewer
There are smart questions to ask the interviewer and then there are the ones that may cause potential employers to wonder if you’re the ideal candidate. You’ve answered all the job interview questions successfully so far, so don’t go shooting yourself in the foot by asking these questions:
1. Lazy Questions
A lazy question is anything about the company that can easily be researched or found online, or is already listed in the job description. Questions such as “What does your company actually do?” or “What are the main responsibilities of the job?” can be easily researched — and in fact, should be researched before your interview.
2. Details on Salary, Benefits, and Vacation Allowances
Yes, you want to work in a job you enjoy, but you also need to pay the bills. However, even if the whole reason why you’ve applied for the job is to earn money for your next vacation, don’t blow your interview chances by asking about salary, benefits, or vacation details during a job interview.
You’re sending all the wrong messages when you ask such questions as it gives the impression that you’re really not interested in the job or being a valued team member. You’d also be shooting yourself in the foot as it may hurt your negotiating chances later.
3. Their Evaluation of Your Interview
They’ve only just spoken with you. Give them some time to process the information. Don’t rush them and don’t be impatient. Instead, thank them for their time and wait to hear from them. If you’ve asked them about the timeline of their interview process (as we suggested earlier), you’ll know when you’ll hear from them.
It’s Time to Land Your Next Job
When an interviewer asks the final wrap-up question of “Do you have any questions?”, it’s really not the time to hurriedly conclude the interview.
What you ask will not only give you a good indication of what you’re signing up for, it has the potential to leave a positive (or negative) long-lasting impression. And when you’re interviewing for a job, you want to be memorable — for all the right reasons!
So besides for preparing for the “Why do you want to work here” type interview questions, be sure to refer to this list and come up with some great questions that will help land you your next job.