Don't be speechless when the tables are turned on you during a job interview.
Most of us prepare to answer questions when we go to an interview. We bone up on the organization. We think through our resumes. We find books or Web sites with tips about frequently asked questions.
But what about asking questions? Toward the end of most interviews, the interviewer asks if there's anything you'd like to know. Often, people say something like "No, not really. I think you've covered most of the questions I had." If that's what you say, you're passing up an opportunity to make points about your interest in the job, your personality and the way you'd fit into the organization. You're also missing a chance to get a better idea of whether you want to work there.
You might get your turn to ask questions before the interview's end. Let those doing the interviewing set the tone. If they're using a conversational approach, it's fine to politely ask questions that arise during the discussion. Prepare by thinking of several questions that you could ask. You may not get to ask them all, and what you hear at the interview may prompt others. Having some in mind will help you ask the right sort of questions.
There's no concrete formula, but here are some basic guidelines.
- Don't ask about salary, vacations or benefits. Demonstrate your interest in the organization and the work. Show what you can do for the organization. If you're offered the job, then you can ask what the organization will do for you.
- Don't ask confrontational, critical questions. Be polite.
- Don't ask questions that sound as though you don't know what the organization does.
- Don't ask about things that you could easily verify on the company's Web site or in its publications.
- Do ask questions that show you've done your homework. You don't need to know minute details, but you should know the basics. It's all right to mention that you noticed something on the Web site and ask an in-depth question about it.
- Do ask open-ended questions that stimulate conversation. Ask specific questions about what the organization has done and is planning rather than generic, hypothetical questions.
- Do use company and industry terminology.
All right -- you know you should prepare some questions. You know the basics. For some examples of good questions, keep reading.