In an interview it is ideal if the dialogue becomes an active conversation, so that you do more than simply nod in agreement and engage with your interviewer. This includes asking questions. You should prepare enough questions in advance. Asking questions shows the interviewer that you are interested in the position and have done your homework. It is also highly strategic: you want to know what the company plans to do so you can see how you might fit into those plans. Here are seven questions to improve your interview skills and help you stand out from the crowd.

1. What does “success” mean in this role? 

As an employee, you are an investment and will be expected to generate value for the company in return for your salary. One way this is achieved is performance indicators – and asking about those indicators is a great way to show that you want to thrive in the position.  

2. Am I a good fit for the company?  

Asking for a subjective opinion shows your openness to constructive criticism – as the interviewer is normally the person you work directly under. Having an idea of their opinion of you is useful in forging that relationship, and the question itself also tells the interviewer you are serious about the job.  

3. What challenges did my predecessor face?  

This question can be scary, but beneficial – the answer is vital. Straight, direct, and positive with an explanation is a good sign, while hesitation is a red flag. This is about you assessing the company as much as it is about the interviewer assessing you – smart interviewees want to know the challenges of the job. 

4. What was the last person in this role missing?  

Demonstrate your ability to tackle problems before they surface. The answer can shed light on why the role is open, and guide you on the path to success. You are selling yourself a potential employee, so demonstrate that you are a team player who wants their colleagues excel as much as you want to.  

5. Do you have any doubts about my profile?  

Asking an interviewer if there’s something missing on your CV gives you a chance to reduce doubts, demonstrates that you can take constructive criticism and that you want to improve – valuable qualities in any employee!  

6. Where will this role go in the future?  

By asking how the role will develop over the short-medium term you will show you want to hit the ground running – something all employers look for.  If your role is temp or interim, show your vision for the future and let the employer know you would like to stay. It also gives you the chance to be prepared for your next search internally or externally. Be careful, however, not to phrase it in a ways that comes across as self-serving. For example, avoid expressing expectations about a promotion or a raise.  

7. What is the company culture like?  

Ask about dress code, social events, lunchtimes, and even if the company considers itself a ‘start-up’ or mature in its sector. These aspects of a company are important in forming lasting relationships, and asking shows you are trying to see yourself inside the company. You also demonstrate that you care about fitting in the dynamic of the whole company, not only your team.  

What questions should you avoid?  

In addition to questions that make a good impression in a job interview, there are also some red flags that you should avoid.  

One of them is why the interviewer decided to invite you to an interview. Knowing the job description and having researched the company you should already have an answer to this question. Otherwise your interviewer gets the impression that you don't know your own value or that you are fishing for compliments.  

Questions about promotions, raises and vacations are important, but if you ask them too early in the interview process it will make you look lazy and more interested in the benefits than the actual position.  

Use these tips as you prepare for the next interview to make a great impression.

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