The Interview: What You Ask Can Be Telling

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You've made it to the end of the interview and things have gone reasonably well. Now the interviewer has asked if you have any questions and is all ears. Are you prepared to ask the right questions? Just as importantly, are there questions you can ask that will give you a better idea about the company and your future if you are offered the position? Asking questions is a golden opportunity to show you are capable of thinking independently and envisioning a future with a prospective employer. Here are things to consider when it's your turn to ask during the interview.

Interest and Enthusiasm Count
Hiring managers consistently disclose that showing enthusiasm is a winning ingredient for a successful interview. Questioning is a perfect time to pull the curtain back and reveal you are excited about the prospect of working for an organization. Show that you've done deeper digging than cursorily reading over their Web site. Ask insightful questions that show an interviewer you like what you see and are eager to learn more. Examples include a question like "What would you say constitutes success in this job and how can I surpass your expectations?"

Drill Down
Interviewers will take you seriously if you ask specific questions about your future in the company. Don't hesitate to ask questions exploring your potential for upward mobility, company stability, or the direction the department is headed in. One good way to get specific is to ask how advancement went for the person formerly in the position. This also gives you a great opportunity to project how you would do things differently from the last one in the position.

Feeling Out Corporate Culture
Are you concerned about how your work habits will mesh with company culture? There's nothing wrong with inquiring "What is the typical work week? Is overtime in this position common and expected?" While you don't want to make it sound like you would never consider working overtime, it's a good time to gauge how workloads are handled. Remember, it will be hard for you to go against the grain if everyone else is working ten-hour days or seven-day weeks. Better to know in advance what sort of working hours a company keeps.

Topics to Steer Clear of
Just as failing to ask questions can make you appear uninterested, one bad question can derail an interview. Resist the urge to bring up the topic of salary or benefits unless the interviewer has already. Other topics that are off limits at this stage include vacations and work schedules. There will be ample time to discuss this when you are made an offer.

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