What questions you should ask in an interview, and what not

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One question that I get very often is: “What things shall/can I ask in a job interview”? And the very truth is that, when I am interviewing candidates, very ofthen they seem to be scared of asking something in case I would judge them.

Asking questions is not only positive but NECESSARY in an interview process for two main reasons:

  1. You are showing interest on the company and also demonstrating that you have done some research before.
  2. A job interview is not only an opportunity for a hiring manager to understand if you are the right fit for the company, but also for you to understand if you want to work for them.

Before doing an interview, it is essential to research the company. The more you research, the more questions you will have – don’t forget to note them down!

To get you thinking, here is a list of questions that would be good for you to have prepared. But please, don’t be thinking the entire interview that you need to ask questions. Live the moment and pay attention to the conversation. LISTEN. The moment of asking will come naturally, and if you are not paying attention to what is being said, you may ask something that was already answered. What an embarrasing moment! I’ve been there 😉

Questions about the job

  1. Why is the job open?
  2. Are you hiring several people for the same position? Why?
  3. What are the projects where I will be mainly focusing on?
  4. What are the skills and experiences that you are looking for in an ideal candidate? – Don’t feel bad if you don’t gather them; you have any other strengths.
  5. What does a typical day look like?

Questions about the company

  1. How has the company grown in the last few years?
  2. What is the company keen to achieve in the short/mid/long term?
  3. How does this team help the company to get there?
  4. Is the company developing something new?
  5. How do you think the future of the company will be?

Questions about the team

  1. How is the current team looking like?
  2. Is there a plan to grow the team? By how many people?
  3. Who will I report directly?
  4. How is the career path landscape looking like?
  5. Does the team work as a team or is it very individualistic?

Questions about the company culture

  1. Does the team usually go for lunch or a drink after work?
  2. Is there any special tradition at the company?
  3. Do you ever join events with other team members?
  4. How was the last team event you did together?
  5. Is there a strong culture in the company?

Questions about the interviewer

  1. How long have you worked for this company for?
  2. Why did you join?
  3. Do you feel like it has matched your expectations?
  4. What do you enjoy the best of working here?
  5. Has your role changed since you arrived?

Questions about yourself

  1. How will my performance be reviewed?
  2. How often will that happen?
  3. What are the performance expectations of this position?
  4. How will I be trained?
  5. Can you show me some examples of what I will be working on?

Questions not to ask

Naturally, there are some questions that is better not to ask, specially if you are in your first interview, because they can kick you out of the process directly.

You should never ask questions that are already answered in the job description or that you could have easily read during your research prior to the interview, for example “what does the company do”?.

You should also avoid questions that are going to make the hiring manager think twice about your commitment, like “how long is the matternity/patternity leave here?”, “if I get sick, how many days can I be missing until I have to visit a doctor?”, “how soon can I go on vacation after starting the job?”, “how many paid personal or sick days are allowed?”. We understand that these questions need an answer, but it is better to keep these “selfish” questions for the moment of negotiating the offer.

And the most shaky one: The Salary Question.

The salary topic will be brought up at some point and before you sign the contract, of course. Therefore, you don’t need to bring it up as soon as you have the chance to meet someone from the company. Before this, you want to get to know more and gather information that later on you can use for negotiating a higher salary or some other benefits.

If you are asked this question at an early stage, you are allowed not to say a number and say that you would be asking for what the market is paying and that you are open to hear. If on the other hand you prefer to say a number, you can give a margin (i.e. between 80 and 100K, depending on other benefits).

Other people like to say how much are they earning straight away after the question, and say that they would just not want to go below that figure – also acceptable.

As a summary, Keep Calm & Ask Questions!

Take care,

Anabel

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