“Do you have any questions for any of us?” How many of us have rehearsed this question before it is asked at the interview? Many are not prepared to offer a question. Too many times the answer is “No”, or “Not at this time” when interviewees are asked. We often forget that an interview is a two-way street. Not only does the interviewer want you to be a good fit for the job, but you also want to make sure that the job is a good fit for you. The only way you can make this determination is by asking good questions in an interview.

Questions to Ask a Potential Employer

Before the interview, make sure you know your employer through study of their website, social media, news, and any other information you can find. This preparation will allow you to ask relevant questions about the company or organization. Your questions will be more informative, and you will be able to display greater understanding of the company. It’s helpful to categorize your questions so you’re prepared to flex in the moment.

Understand the Position and the Work

A good place to start is to make sure you understand your potential new role by asking questions like “What are the most important things you like to see someone accomplishing in the first 30 or 60 days on the job?” Or what metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?

Another great question to ask is “Why is the position open? Perhaps the last person got a promotion. Maybe they were fired for performance. Potentially you are applying for a new position. Regardless, you may want to know why they are hiring.

It is good to know where the challenges and the land mines are. Therefore, you might want to ask, “What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?” This kind of question will give you an idea of the operational tempo of the organization.

Understand the Culture

Find out about the work culture. One way to do that it is by looking at the company’s website and reading their mission statement. You may gather an understanding by the way you are addressed in the hallways and greeted by people. What kind of vibe are you picking up on? Are people generally happy? Were they remarkably busy or wearing frowns? If you still do not have the insight you would like, ask “How would describe the organization’s work environment?” Or perhaps you could ask, “Is the work typically collaborative or more independent?”

Develop a Rapport

You could ask the interviewer questions to show them you are interested in them as a person, trying to build rapport. You could ask, “How long have you been with the company?” or “Has your role changed since you have been with this company?” Or perhaps “What gets you most excited about the company’s future?” Leave on a high note by asking “How can I be most helpful to the company during the next three to six months?”

What Not to Ask or Say

One question not to ask at the interview, “How much does a job pay?” It is probably best to leave the benefits questions alone, as well. All these questions will be answered later if you are offered the position. But, it is always a good idea to be prepared with a few questions to ask at the interview. There is no need to say “Not at this time” when asked if you have any questions.

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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at Gr8Transitions4U.com.