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Women at Work: ‘Any questions for us?’ Be prepared for your interview

February 24, 2019 GMT

The Women at Work column has been in existence for several years, and with one column a week published, a wide variety of topics have been covered. Some columns are written from the heart and are quite emotional while others are more dry and technical, but still relevant.

I get weekly feedback from readers no matter what topic I choose, and oftentimes the feedback asks for advice. Recently, a reader asked for assistance concerning the follow-up she was to provide an interviewer after her interview. Specifically, she was asked, “In your opinion, what are three questions you recommend asking an employer to help in your decision to accept a position or not?”

As I helped her craft a response, I reflected back on all the job interviews I have participated in. Every single interview, whether I was the interviewee or interviewer, ended with, “Do you have any questions for us?” If you’re not prepared, that one question can throw you for a loop. It can make you look unprepared and possibly cause them to pass you over for the job.

You shouldn’t be stumped by this question, but just in case you need a little help, see these helpful hints from Maurie Backman.

1. How has the company evolved over the past few years?

Generally speaking, it’s best to work for a company that’s been showing signs of growth. And a good way to figure out whether an employer falls into that category is to see how it’s changed over the past few years. Ideally, your interviewer will give you insight as to how the company has progressed and developed its staff and product or service line. As a follow-up question, you might also ask how the company has adapted to recent challenges to get a sense of how it operates. Not only are these thoughtful questions, but they’re ones whose answers will inform your decision of whether to accept a job offer.

2. What has your experience been like working for this company?

Asking your interviewer about his or her personal experience working for the company is a good way to gain insight as to what your own experience might entail. It also shows that you’re taking an interest in your interviewer, and that you value his or her opinion.

3. What’s the company culture like?

You want to enjoy going to work, and a company whose culture promotes a pleasant environment is generally one worth pursuing. It’s always smart to ask about company culture because it can give you great insight into what your days might be like. Ask how the typical day goes for the average employee, and what steps the company takes to foster collaboration and teamwork. Along these lines, don’t hesitate to ask whether employees generally manage to maintain a decent work-life balance. While the answer might vary on a case-by-case basis, you should try to get a general sense of whether employees get enough personal time or are pushed too hard.

4. What made the last person who filled this role successful?

Assuming you’re not the first person to land the position at hand, it pays to ask what made the previous employee good at what he or she did. Was that person a strong project manager? Was he or she a risk-taker? Asking this question shows you’re invested in being successful yourself.

Just remember, the last thing you want is to appear unprepared.