“Do you have any questions for us?” It's the final question to be asked at just about every interview, but it is still one that can catch people off guard if they are not prepared ahead of time. Even if you've aced the rest of the interview, you should always try to ask the people you are hoping will hire you something insightful before you leave the room.
It's worth keeping in mind that any question that you do put forward won’t just tell you about the company, it can reveal a lot about you as a candidate, too.
Generally speaking, questions you wish to ask should occur to you throughout the interview, and the question/s you will ask at the end of the interview will allow you to expand on or clarify on key points.
Sometimes though, you might end up stumped, with the interviewer elaborating on all the areas you would normally ask about. This is not a bad thing, but interview subjects often miss the opportunity to find out more about the hiring manager and build a rapport that could strengthen any future relationship if they do not pose a question at the close of the interview.
What you should be asking
With that in mind, here are six questions that you can consider asking at the end of the interview to demonstrate that you're a thoughtful, curious candidate, with a genuine interest in the hiring manager, role and company:
1. “I would love to learn more about your role—can you share how you started out here?” Learning about how your interviewer got to where they are now will not only show your interest in the interviewer as an individual, but it will give you a good idea of how the organization works, too.
2. “What is it that you most enjoy about working here?” This will give you a much better idea of the company culture and any perks or benefits on offer. Even if it has been touched upon throughout the interview, this is your moment to move beyond prepared lines and get into specifics.
3. “What sets the company apart from other places you have worked for?” Everyone has an employment history, and since they know yours this is an opportunity to ask them to share theirs, too. Whether they have more experience in the industry or have worked for different companies to ones you're familiar with, this is where you can gain a better understanding of what makes your potential employer tick.
4. “How do you see the company evolving over the next 3-5 years?” This forward-looking question will show your interest in the bigger picture context of the company and the role, as well as demonstrate your long-term interest in joining the organization.
5. “How would you define the ideal employee?” You already know what they're looking for in a candidate, but it's always worth expanding on this to find out more about how they would see you fitting into a team and which attributes they feel are most important in their people.
6. “How would you define success for the applicant who wins the role?” This is your chance to get deeper insight into what the actual job will look like, with the bonus that you will come across as engaged and vigilant.
Using variations of these questions won't just spare everyone the awkward silence that can come at the end of an interview, they will also let you engage directly with the person with whom you are interviewing.
This personal connection will stimulate interest, allow you to build a rapport with further conversation that goes beyond their prepared notes, and ensures that you stand out from other candidates. Not only that, but these techniques also give you more valuable (and most likely candid) information about the business and the people in it, letting you make a more informed career decision. It's a win-win situation.