So, you nailed all the job interview questions, spoke passionately about your goals, and described in great detail your past experience. Now, the interviewer turns to you and asks if you have any questions for her. Don't let this opportunity catch you off guard. It's as important as the resume you have presented or the gleam of your new suit. Handle this portion of the interview by doing thorough homework in advance. This will enable you to ask intelligent questions that demonstrate your superior knowledge---and help you land the job.
Know the Company
Research the company before the interview so you will be armed with information about its mission, its history and any current projects it has in the works. Do they participate in community service events? Is the company involved in any "green" initiatives or diversity programs? Make certain your knowledge goes beyond a description of the job for which you are applying, and then ask about how you can become involved in those areas that interest you.
Ask about Culture
Ask about the company's workplace culture, something that can't be determined from visiting a website or reading financial reports. Do employees socialize outside the office? Is the workplace casual or formal? Fast-paced or calm? How long do employees typically remain with the company? Does management tend to promote from within, or hire from outside? These and other similar questions give you a window into the bigger concepts that drive the company's workplace atmosphere. If you're going to work there every day, you do want to have a sense of the environment.
Tap into the Interviewer
Politely ask the interviewer about her experience working at the company. Does she enjoy it? What's the best thing about working there? What's the most challenging aspect of the workplace? What compelled her to want to work for this company? By gently putting the spotlight on the interviewer, you get a window into her personal experience at the company. You can also soften the structure of the interview and take a personal interest in the woman behind the hiring process. This also gives you a greater understanding of what it's like to work for the company on a day-to-day basis. It might even reveal some challenges or negatives to anticipate.
Ask Crucial Process Questions
Toward the end of the interview, wrap up by discussing the rest of the hiring process. When should you expect to hear back? Is there anything more you should send to the interviewer? When should you follow up if you haven't heard anything? By taking time to ask these questions, you won't leave unsure about your next step in the process. Instead, you'll have a firm idea of how soon you'll hear back, and you can abide by the interviewer's preferences regarding future correspondence. Of course, send the interviewer a thank you email within 24 hours of your meeting. It's a courtesy that demonstrates the professionalism you'll exhibit with clients and co-workers once you have been hired.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.