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5 Sharp Questions to Ask in Your Next Interview

Interviews are as much about you finding out whether you want to work somewhere as it is about your interviewers deciding whether you are the right candidate for the role.

After answering their questions you will be in a position where you know what they are looking for, but how about how the company matches up to somewhere you want to work?

‘Any questions from you’ typically signals the end of the interview. But rather than running out of the room as quickly as you can to breathe a sigh of relief that you got through the interview unscathed, using this opportunity to engage with your interviewers further can do wonders for your chance of snagging the job, as well as judging whether this is a place you could see yourself working.

Posing insightful questions can really help you stand out from the crowd as well as demonstrating your seriousness about the role. Going into the interview with 2 or 3 prepared questions is always recommended. This is your opportunity to learn more about the role, to show your desire to excel and progress in the role, and also find out about the ethos of the company and what it is like to work there. Here are five questions to help you stand out at your next interview:

1.     How did this vacancy arise?

There are many reasons why the position you are interviewing for has become vacant. This may be because of an internal promotion, or because the person filling the role before resigning. Alternatively, if this is a new role, then that is a good indication that the department is thriving and expanding as a result.

If the vacancy is due to a promotion then this speaks highly of the company, not only that they are keen to promote, but also that employees are keen to stay. On the other hand, if they have had trouble finding someone to remain in the position for any significant length of time then this should sound alarm bells.

2.     What are the main challenges of this role?

All jobs come with their own unique challenges regardless of whether it is an executive or entry-level position. Being forewarned of what you may be up against is always useful. Employers should be happy to give you an honest appraisal of the job and this includes its least desirable elements; an interviewer who brushes over this question or maintains there are no challenging elements may have something to hide. This is your opportunity to consider whether you would be able to overcome these challenges, and if so, demonstrate this capability to the interviewers.

3.     What is the recruitment timeline for this position?

This question has a dual purpose. Firstly, asking this shows your interest and keenness in the position and that you are excited about learning the outcome of the interview, but secondly it is also important that you know what lies ahead. The next step in the recruitment process might be a final decision, or alternatively it could mean another two rounds of interviews or a practical examination.

Finding out the timeline may also help you gauge how many people they have lined up to interview for the position; if they tell you not to expect a decision for a week or more, it is likely they have a number of candidates to see.

4.     What is it like to work here?

It is not just the role you need to be comfortable with, but you also need to be sure you are comfortable with the company itself. It is always advisable to find out about the culture and ethos of the business and how it operates before you accept a role there. Regular out of work events suggests a strong team camaraderie, while the option of flexible working hours implies a company sensitive to ensuring their staff enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

5.     What is the most interesting or memorable project you have been part of while working here?

Allowing the interviewer to talk about their experiences working with the company is a great way of understanding more about the projects they handle. Furthermore you can learn a lot about how your interviewer feels about working at the company by considering their excitement and passion behind their answer. If they are enthusiastic about working there, chances are it is an exciting place to be.

Gary Addison is an experienced business adviser in the area of redundancy, pensions and other statutory entitlements and writes for a number of UK publications on these topics. He is the managing director of RedundancyClaim.co.uk.