Questions You Should Always -- and Never -- Ask On An Interview

It's possible to save a bad interview with good questions

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Remember, the interview is an opportunity for you to ask your own questions of the employer. Don't miss this opportunity to find out information that may help you make your case for being hired and impress the interviewer simultaneously. Here's a list of topics you should – and should not – ask at an interview if you want to be remembered for the right reasons and win over the interviewer.

Interview Questions You SHOULD Ask

1. A question that proves you've done your homework. Employers are so relieved when candidates come to interviews well prepared and informed. Ask questions that make it clear you're informed about the organization, its goals and its culture. It's even possible to save a bad interview with good questions.

2. What's the most important initiative for the person you hire in the first month? Not only do you want to know this because it will be your job if you get this position, you'll be able to assess if the organization has any clue about what they expect this person to handle. If the reply seems too vague, overreaching or unrealistic, you'll have the heads up that if you take the job, you could be in for a difficult start.

3. Who will be my boss and who is on the team? Don't assume that you'll automatically meet your potential supervisor or colleagues at an interview. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who is in charge and whom you'll be relying on if you take on this position.

4. When will you be making a decision? It's such an obvious question, but many nervous job seekers forget to find out when they can expect to hear back. This is especially important if you are the first of 30 interviews over the next three weeks, and the employer doesn't plan to be in touch before then. Instead of cooling your heels and fuming that no one is getting back to you, you can relax when you ask, "When do you expect to make an offer?" or "When will you be letting people know about the next steps in the process?"

5. What's the best way to follow up? You don't want to annoy the interviewer with follow-up phone calls if she doesn't check voice mail more than once a week. Ask how to follow up and at least you'll be assured that you're getting in touch with the employer using their preferred methods.

Questions You Should FORGET

1. It's a mistake to ask anything you can easily find online. It makes you look like you're unprepared and just grasping for a question to ask. It's almost better to ask nothing than to ask something like, "So, what are your most popular products?

2. Any question that suggests you would want or need special favors. This actually starts when you schedule your interview. If you start asking for special favors from the get-go, it's a red flag for employers. At the interview, don't ask about working from home, flexibility, vacation or other benefits. Table questions about salary until it is time to negotiate.

3. Anything that makes it look like you want this job to be a stepping stone to something else. If you ask, "When could I apply for a promotion?" you're giving a clear message that you're already moving on from this job they are focused on filling. No one wants to hire someone who has their eyes on the next thing. Keep your aspirations to yourself for the time being.

More from Miriam Salpeter
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