Welcome to Asked&Answered, our monthly advice column in which Ellen Mehling, METRO's Career Services Consultant, answers reader questions. Have a pressing concern about your job (search)? Submit your question here.
Q: How many questions should I have for an interviewer at the end of a job interview?
A: In my opinion, about three to five questions are good for a first interview. And the quality of the questions is much more important than the quantity.
It is a good idea to have more questions prepared than you think you’ll need, as some of the things you were going to ask about may be addressed during the interview. Remember, you are gathering information about the employer as the employer is learning about you. Your interview is an opportunity to find out as much as you can so that you can determine whether this job would be a good fit for you.
Your questions should show that you are very interested in this particular job. Asking how the position (or department, or workplace) is evolving shows that you have a serious interest and are looking to stay for a while. Your questions also give you a chance to show how much you know about the field, that employer, and that job.
Make sure to do your homework prior to the interview. It will not look good if you ask a question that could have been answered by visiting the employer’s website.
Here are some questions to choose from that can be adapted to the situation as necessary:
What will be priorities for this position for the first six months?
What are your plans regarding [some current or future challenge in the field]?
How would you describe the culture of this workplace?
I read about [a new goal, initiative, or event] on your website; can you tell me more about how that got started?
How is success measured? Are there regular, formal employee evaluations?
It is a good idea to ask these questions if this information has not already been discussed:
Who will be the supervisor for this position?
Is this a newly created position? [If not:] Why did the last person to hold this job leave, and how long did s/he work here?
What are the future plans for this [library, company, department, etc.]?
Here are more good questions.
Avoid asking about salary, benefits, perks or your own needs or desires regarding the job. Leave that for the employer to bring up first. If you ask about these things it will indicate that you are more focused on what you want or need rather than what you have to offer. Employers usually won’t want to discuss those kinds of details until they are closer to making an offer.
Finally, be sure to ask “What is the next step in the hiring process for this position?” at the very end of the conversation, so you can find out how and when to follow up.