Most job applicants are concerned about intelligently answering questions asked during an interview. The smart applicant will also think about questions they need to ask. Why? Three reasons:
1- GET CRITICAL FACTS ABOUT WORK, BOSS AND ENVIRONMENT: These questions are important for you to understand the key elements of the job, working conditions, organizational issues, travel requirements, staff support, to whom you will report, and other organizational questions. The Human Resources person or recruiter can handle some of these questions. However, many questions should only be answered by the hiring manager, your boss. There must be clarity and confirmation about the duties and responsibilities defined in the position description, working relationships, standards of performance, expectations, preparations and anything else that will help or potentially hinder your performance. It’s also important to get a fix on the management style of your boss. Does he or she want to approve all actions or leave you the freedom to get results? Is the boss a micromanager, a planner, a good communicator, and so on. An early understanding of your position, duties and relationships can go a long way to help you to succeed early.
2- PRESENTING YOURSELF AS AN INSIGHTFUL BUSINESSPERSON: The questions you ask (telephone screen, first interview, second interview) can give you invaluable information about what is important to the organization and the hiring manager. After the interviewer has completed their segment of the interview, they will usually ask, “Do you have any questions of me?”. Now is your chance to set yourself up as an astute businessperson who is focused on results. Answers to these questions will give you a powerful advantage over all peer candidates. Questions about growth strategies, products, competitors, distribution channels and so on, will help fill out your knowledge base. P.S.: Always start with a piece of information you know before asking the follow-up question, like: “I’ve researched the competitive products and can see the opportunity for product-line extensions. Are there plans to expand the current portfolio?”
3- INFORMATION YOU NEED PERSONALLY: Most of these questions can wait until you are about to get an offer. The Information will center on issues of relocation, start date, title, compensation, insurances, policies, practices, and so on. This information should NEVER be asked during a telephone-screening interview, or seldom asked during the first face-to-face interview. These questions can wait until you are being considered a finalist candidate and some important but not critical issues need to be finalized. Even after you are offered a position you still have time to get personal information as you’ll need to scope out the cost of living, the moving policy, school options, and so on.
The quality of your questions will not only position you as an insightful and intuitive thinker, but also prepare you for your next interview, with information that no one else will have available to them.