Here's a question that should spark a good conversation: "How did you start working at this organization, and what has your career path been like?"
Most people like to talk about themselves. This question should please the interviewer and make the conversation go smoothly. It also should provide a natural, interesting way for you to learn more about how the organization's structure works and about possibilities for advancement. The answers you get to this question also should provide clues to what the interviewer values and tell you more about what the company looks for when it hires. Such clues can be useful when you follow up the interview with a thank-you letter and if you're called back for a second interview.
Read on for more productive questions.