After you've spent most of a job interview sweating through the interviewer's questions, the last thing you want is to be put on the spot some more. But at some point toward the end of an interview, you'll get your chance to ask a few questions of your own. Don't make the mistake of glossing over this section of the interview. If you really want the job, use this opportunity to your advantage. This is your last chance to show your interest in the company and to find out whether the job is the right fit for you.
Learn as much as you can about the company before the interview. To ask intelligent questions, you need to know about how the company functions and what your role would be. Check out the company's newsletter, as well as newspaper reports, reviews, and information from current and former employees -- on sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook -- to gather as much information as possible about the employer and the position.
Prepare a list of questions you want to ask the interviewers. Rehearse them with a trusted friend before the interview. Go beyond questions about the salary or benefits package. Ask about the company's management style, what a day on the job looks like or why the previous employee left the position. Asking the interviewer to describe an ideal candidate gives you one last chance to say why you make a great candidate.
Listen carefully during the interview. The interviewers are likely to answer some of the questions you prepared during the course of the interview; you don't want to appear disengaged by asking a question that the interviewer has already answered. When it's your time to ask questions, be courteous and don't try to embarrass or stump the interviewer with questions she may know nothing about.
Wait until the end of the interview to ask about the next steps. If the interviewer has not already indicated what will happen following the interview, asking how you'll be contacted or when you'll hear back shows that you're interested in the position. Knowing a time frame will also give you some peace of mind.
- Your thank you note to the interviewer is another chance to get her to consider you for the job. Take the opportunity to ask another question; this may prompt the interviewer to contact you to answer your question.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.