Questions That Shouldn't Go Unanswered In An Interview


by Ian Orme

25th February 2014

Interviewing for a job is a two way conversation. On the one hand, candidates should be selling themselves to the company and on the other, the hiring manager needs to sell the job and the company to the candidate. Both are deciding whether there's a good fit and both need to make the most of the interview.

Ian Orme, Business Consultant, Office Personnel

If you are the candidate, it's important to completely understand the job and to become familiar enough with the company to make an important career decision.

In the heat of the moment, or if nerves are getting the better of you, it can be easy to feel a little intimidated, forgetting the information you wanted to gather from the interview. But forming a good conversation will differentiate you from other candidates, leaving a great impression on the interviewer. There's no harm in writing down your questions and taking them to the interview if that helps you.

Here's my top five questions you might want to make sure you have answers to before the interview ends.

What is the culture and environment like within the business?
During a good interview you should receive plenty of information about the culture of a company and the working environment. Sometimes this information is also included within the job specification, so there's a balance to be gained between finding out all you need to know and giving the perception that you haven't done your own research or read the job spec. But questions like this provide an opportunity to learn about how you might fit in to the company as you get an understanding of how effective communication is within the organisation; whether you'll be encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities or how involved the company gets in community initiatives for example.

What are the training and development opportunities for this role?
It's good to know how a company invests in employee development. Asking this question doesn't mean that you already have an eye on the next job opportunity once you've learned all you can in the role you are interviewing for! Don't be afraid to ask as it shows you are interested in development potentially leading to extra responsibility or keeping up to date with technology advances which can make you or your boss more efficient.

How will my success be determined?
An employer will be looking for someone to add value in the position. When understanding how your success will be measured it's important that you determine what qualities your line manager expects you to have; what are the visible contributions you can make and what you should be specifically focussing on in the early stages of your new role.

It can also help determine what previous experience could help you excel in the role, giving you another opportunity to explain the value you'll bring. Chances are the job description you received may be generic, so asking this question can help you identify exactly what it takes to succeed in the position.

Is this an established or newly created position?
This should have come to light during the interview but if you are unsure there's no harm in asking. If it's a new position the expectations for the role may be unclear. Perhaps this role is now available because of a successful promotion, expansion in the company or re-structuring. It can be useful to know the story behind the vacancy and understand how the role fits in the organisation - do you report to more than one person for instance or work for a team or just one person?

What are the next steps and when can I expect to hear back?
If you've been asking lots of questions throughout or you're satisfied that you have all the information you need to make a decision about the position, then this question is a good way to end the interview. It shows you are positive and eager to find out the next step in the process, which should leave a good impression with the interviewer.

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