Are You Asking These 4 Essential Questions?

John Krautzel
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A job interview provides a valuable opportunity for you to find out everything you need to know about a company. After a potential employer is done asking questions, it's your turn. These four questions can help you evaluate the company and determine if it's right for you.

1. Are There Opportunities for Advancement Within the Company?

Career advancement is a tricky subject to bring up in a job interview. If you approach it the wrong way, it can raise concerns about your loyalty and longevity with the firm. Asking about internal opportunities lets the potential employer know that you're motivated and enthusiastic, and it also reassures him that you're interested in sticking with the company. The answer to this question is revealing — if the job is a dead-end, you might find yourself looking for work again in a year or two.

2. Did I Answer Your Questions With Enough Detail?

A job interview can get off track quickly, particularly when you have an instant rapport with the employer. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can result in misconceptions or missed information. Asking if the interviewer has any remaining questions gently prompts him to stop and think about the issues at hand. This does two things: it ensures that the interview covers all key bases, and it gives you the opportunity to resolve any concerns.

3. What Do You Enjoy Most About Working Here?

A job interview is stressful for you, but it's also a high-pressure event for the employer. During a short period of time, he must verify your abilities, determine whether you can handle the workload and decide if you're a good match for the team. This question is valuable because it gives him an opportunity to snap out of "official interviewer" mode and into a more personal space. Since it leaves room for interpretation, the answers can provide valuable insights into the company. You might discover that the team socializes outside of the office, for example, or that the executives welcome and utilize employee input. This information can let you know whether or not the company is the right fit.

4. What is Your Anticipated Timeline?

Job-hunting is a time-sensitive process, so it's vital to have a clear understanding of a company's timeline. This is particularly important when you expect competing offers. For example, if you know the hiring decision is coming within a week, you can put off another employer for a few days in order to compare the two offers. A general sense of the process also helps you know when to follow up. Don't wait for the interviewer to volunteer this information, and don't leave the job interview without asking — although it might seem like an obvious misstep, an employer is only human. He might be tired after a long day of interviewing, distracted by work matters or busy thinking about his next appointment.

Asking questions is an easy way to reverse roles during a job interview. With the right inquiries, you can position yourself as a thoughtful professional and gain the information you need to make an informed career decision.

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