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Questions to Stand Out at Every Stage of an Interview

Have you ever felt like you prepared tirelessly for an interview, only to not seal the deal in the end? Prepping for an interview can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. After you’ve done your research, and prepped for answers, the last thing to do is compile a list of smart questions to ask.  This part of the interview is more crucial than you might think. 

Asking questions not only demonstrates your interest in the company, it shows you’ve given thought to whether the position will be a good match. Remember, interviews are not a one-way street; they’re a mutual exchange of information. There are many different types of questions to ask, and depending on which stage you’re at in the interview process, you’ll want to gather different types of information. 

Basic Questions 

When to use? Ask these questions during the pre-screening phone interview, or in the very early stages. Gathering this information early will allow you to prepare better follow-up questions. It will also give you clues on which skills and/or characteristics to emphasize later in the interview process. 

Company 

• What do you see ahead for your company in the next five years? Ten years?
• What do you consider to be your company’s most important assets?
How do you rate your competition?
How is job performance evaluated, and how often does it occur? 

Position 

• Could you describe a typical day or week in this position? Or Could you describe the typical client or customer I would be dealing with?
What are the most important elements of this job?
Why is this position available?
What is the single largest problem facing your team right now and would I be in a position to solve it? 

On-the-job Questions 

When to use? Ask these questions when you are looking to dig deeper into the specific role and expectations. It’s best to wait to ask these until you’re speaking with your future manager. 

• What do you expect the person who takes this job to achieve during their first 30, 60, and 90 days?
Could you tell me about the way the job has been performed in the past? And, what improvements you’d like to see happen?
What metrics are used to measure success in this role?
Are there opportunities to advance?
What are some of the challenges I could expect to come across in this role?
What types of skills do you NOT already have on-board that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
If I was starting in this position today, what would you advise me to learn first and do first

Cultural Fit Questions 

When to use? The right cultural fit is important to the employer and should be important to you too. There are many aspects to culture: management style, processes, values, etc. Ask these questions when you’re able to speak with other team members and people from other departments. 

• What do you like best about working here? Or What made you decide to work here?
The company may have a formal recognition program; however, what type of recognition have you recently given to one of your staff?
Has anyone on your staff been promoted over the last couple of years? If so, what was the reason why this person was promoted?
What would be the three things that your peers would say you do extremely well?
What opportunities do you make available for professional development and training?
Does the company welcome celebrating special occasions? What was the last occasion your department celebrated? 

Closing Questions 

When to use? Ask these questions in the final stage of the interview process to ensure you haven’t left the interviewer with any questions, get a gauge on how the interviewer is feeling, and understand next steps. 

• Do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications that I could try to address?
This job sounds like something I’d really like to do — is there a fit here?
Now that we’ve talked about my qualifications and the job, do you have any concerns about my being successful in this position?
What is the next step in this process?
What is your timeline for hiring this position?