Congrats. You’ve made it this far.
Your networking, company research, and targeted resume all paid off and here you sit, in the interviewee’s seat for a killer role that you really want. So far, the interview has gone well. Your story is tight, you nailed difficult questions for which you prepared, and you’ve articulated why you’re a perfect fit. Yet, with a few minutes remaining, a final test awaits.
Time to switch roles with your interviewer as she wraps up with one simple ask: Do you have any questions?
Now your questions, not answers, will provide clues about how you’ll perform as an employee.
Both you and your interviewer know that job success isn’t created from a list of rehearsed answers. On a daily basis, you must figure out how to drive results with uncertain and incomplete information. Asking strategic questions is the first step. So, this, too, is now your task.
Below is a list of 13 questions, organized in five key areas, which will help you and your interviewer gather information and assess any outstanding concerns. One caveat: be selective. You should aim to ask at least one – not all – of the questions in each area:
Demonstrate that you do your homework. When you prepped for the interview, you researched everything you could about the company. This should have included tracking important business developments – e.g. a new product launch, acquisition, market entry – from niche data sources like an industry news source or company annual report. Ask a question that demonstrates that you’re serious about data and connect the dots:
- Example: “I read in x report, that women and millennial consumers are the largest growing customer segments in the industry. How do you target them?”
Focus on the big picture. Show that you can step away from day-to-day management tasks to deliver priorities aligned with the company’s future. Frame a question that shows your strategic thinking:
- How is this role key to the company’s strategy?
- What are the company’s long-term priorities for the next 3-5 years?
Show you mean business. Starting day 1, you must know what “success” looks like. Confirm exactly what is expected of you. Ask a question that gives your boss confidence that you will deliver results:
- What must I deliver in my first 30 days?
- What are the critical KPI’s for this year?
- How do you measure success for this role?
- What challenges do you anticipate with this role?
- Which colleagues are good mentors for me in this role and why?
Build a relationship with your boss. Your boss needs to count on and also trust you. If you haven’t figured out your interviewer’s personality and what’s most important to her, you won’t ace your interview. Pause from work-related questions and probe into what makes your boss tick:
- Why did you choose to work here? (or What are your professional goals?)
- What should I know about your communication and/or leadership style?
- I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you previously x (mention a fact that struck you). How did that influence your current role? (Note: If you share something in common, emphasize a connection – for example, if you both worked overseas or are alumni of the same school.)
Focus on next steps. Your final goal is to reduce any uncertainty that you or your interviewer may have about your candidacy. Seal the deal by addressing doubts head-on:
- Do you have any concerns about my fit for the role? (Be prepared to acknowledge them and reframe to your advantage)
- What are next steps and time line for your decision?
Hopefully, next steps will lead to an offer. If you inquire with confidence, you stand a good chance of impressing your interviewer. No question about it.
Susan Margolin writes and conducts research for corporate clients. Previously, she worked in marketing and business development for more than a decade in Asia. She holds degrees from Harvard (BA, MPA) and Northwestern University (MBA).