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6 key questions to ask during interviews

A job interview is a two-way street. It’s your chance to establish whether joining a particular company will benefit your career, and ultimately, whether there is a suitable fit between the company and you.

For that reason, besides answering common interview questions by HR and hiring managers, it's important you ask your interviewers questions as well to gauge what the role will entail, and whether it is the right fit for you.

A Senior Consultant at Robert Walters Singapore, notes, “In my experience, I had clients who didn’t proceed with candidates after their first interview rounds as the candidates didn’t ask questions, which made the clients think they lack interest in the position.”

“All job applicants should therefore ask questions during interviews that reflect their knowledge of the company, their interest in the position, and their work ethic. Show the hiring manager you have thought about the role beyond what has been covered during the interview – this is your chance to stand out from other job applicants and leave the interviewer with a memorable impression of you,” she adds.

Below is a selection of important questions to ask in an interview.

1. Why has this position become available?

It’s important for you to know why this position is open - is it because someone left the role, or is it newly created? If so, why was it created? This will help inform you about the management and growth expectations of the company.

The senior consultant says, “It is crucial to know the background and history of the role. However, in the case of replacement roles, I wouldn’t recommend job applicants to dive right into the topic. Most of the time, when appropriate, the interviewer will proactively give more details on the reasons of the replacement, such as internal transfers, restructuring of the role etc.”

“Conversely, if the role is newly created, this is a great chance for you to discuss with the hiring manager on the details of the ongoing and upcoming projects, as well as the team structure etc.,” she points out.

2. What do you like about working for this company?

Gaining insights from someone that is already part of the company will help you find out more about whether the company’s cultural fit is what you are looking for. You would also have a better gauge of the team that you’ll be working with and the dynamics within the company.

The senior consultant explains, “The number one reason I have been hearing from professionals on why they resign from their job is that of cultural misfit. You should hence know and understand the culture of the company before deciding whether to join the organisation.”

“Look out for mentions of company values, values they seek in new joiners, team spirit, diversity, internal opportunities including horizontal and vertical moves, and trainings and support provided to help achieve your goals,” Irina says.

3. What are the benchmarks for judging my suitability for the role?

This information is useful to know as each business operates differently. The answer will show you what approach the company takes with its employees, and is useful for you to think about when considering whether such an approach suits you personally.

Furthermore, asking the interviewer questions about the role shows that you are engaged and interested in the company, and demonstrates your ability to show initiative.

She notes, “I always recommend job applicants to understand the company’s expectations for the role by asking what achievements are expected within the first 6/12 months. The answer will help you assess how realistic the expectations are, as well as set up right impression on yourself as a goal-oriented person with the intention to perform and succeed.”

4. What can I expect in terms of development and support?

Asking this question reflects that you are keen on growing, learning, and staying with the company. It also allows you to find out whether the role offers what you are looking for in the long-term.

She recommends job applicants to “find out what is the general feeling in the organisation towards initiatives for both professional and personal development, such as interpersonal skills development sessions, upskilling activities, trainings held by senior colleagues to share experience etc.”

“If the company is an MNC, there might be a chance for international mobility. Otherwise, you can ask the hiring manager if there might be opportunities for a horizontal move to try a different function,” Irina says.

5. Where does the job fit into the team structure?

Not only does this question provide you with the chance to see how you can progress within the team, it also provides you with an opportunity to better understand the team that you will be a part of and who will be your major stakeholders.

6. What is the next step after the interview?

Although this question is often forgotten, asking this is vital for any candidate. It shows the interviewer that you have thought about the next stage, and provides you with an indication on whether you need to prepare more for subsequent interview rounds.

Our senior consultant advises, “Seek a deeper understanding of the role during the first interview round so you can further tailor your answers in the next round. Genuinely ask the interviewer for recommendations on how you could better prepare yourself for the next round.”

“If you are able to find out who will be interviewing you next, you can even proactively check the professional history of the interviewers through online professional platforms like LinkedIn to understand their expectations or find common experience (companies you work for, industries, location covered etc).”

The job interview is not just about seeing whether you are the right fit for the organisation. It’s also about making sure you feel confident about your ability to do the job, and in turn, making sure you feel the role would be a successful subsequent career move.

Read our complete interview guide for more tips on how to ace your next job interview.

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