Asking questions is as important as answering them when it comes to job interviews

Photo by Victoria Panacci

As the summer months approach, many students are finding themselves scheduling job interview after job interview, in hopes of finding either summer or post-graduate employment.

As much as we are trained in high school and even university to sell ourselves in job interviews, there are times when we are face-to-face with a future employer and we just draw a blank.

Coming from someone who currently has 19 students working for her, I have seen some great interviews and some not so great interviews.

The most common flop that I see students make is at the very end of the interview, when the potential employer asks, “so, do you have any questions for me?” and the applicant replies with, “nope, I don’t think so.”

When you’re in a job interview, remember that it’s your job to interview them just as much as they are interviewing you.

You don’t want to accept a position and find out later that it wasn’t a good fit.

How your potential employer answers your own questions can be really telling of the environment they foster.

So how should you turn the tables when asked, “do you have any questions for me?”

“What kind of traits are you looking for in an employee, both professionally and personally?”

This is a really good one that can show how hard your potential employer will push you or if they leave any room for fun or personal connections in the work place. Listen to their answer and see if you fit — or if their idea of an ideal employee fits the kind of employee you want to be.

“What do you like about working here?”

This is a really good way to see if your potential employer is happy at their job. Working for someone who hates where they work is never fun and can create a toxic working environment. If they struggle to answer this one, that may be a red flag. Also, if their answer is personally motivated, like “there are a lot of women in leadership positions here” vs. motivated by business such as “we make sales targets every year,” that could be telling as to what the goals of the company are.

“Does this company ensure that women and those of visible minorities are given equal opportunities?”

If this is important to you, ask! For me, the idea of working for a company that does not support equal opportunities for everyone isn’t ideal. I believe that workplaces should be held accountable for their hiring practices and if you do identify as female or as a visible minority, chances are you want to work somewhere that will allow you to succeed and advance.

“How high is turnover?”

When I’m in an interview, I like to hear about the employees that have been working there for 10+ years because that usually means that the employees are happy and are getting paid fairly, with the assumption that they are getting raises. If the average employee only stays for two years, then something fishy is going on.

“Do you support free pizza Fridays?”

Okay, so maybe don’t ask this one, but it was worth a shot.

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