Ten ridiculously smart questions to ask in a job interview

By Rachel Weingarten
 

In a crowded job market, the last thing you want to be is forgettable.

Yet people do it every day with this one mistake: not asking any questions in a job interview.

The mistake is understandable. You’ve been so busy preparing to answer questions, that you’re forgetting to show the curiosity that lets interviewers see what you really want to know. After all, even if every single one of your responses are flawless and on point, by not asking a question or two of your interviewer you run the risk of coming across as generic.

On the other hand, you don’t want to ask terrible questions. That’s even worse.

Here’s how to show the person interviewing you how you’re different and why you stand apart from the rest.

Why did you join the company?

Mark Phillips, who runs a top office for Sanford Rose Associates, one of the largest recruiting networks in the U.S. had a simple question that could be quite complicated. If the interviewer tells you it was because of vacation days or benefits, chances are good that there isn’t all that much below the surface. If, however, they tell you about the creativity or integrity of the brand, you know you’re potentially going to work for a winner.

How does this role further your company’s mission?

Kelly Lavin, chief talent officer for newly launched Canvas, the first text-based interviewing platform suggests you ask this because “While job duties and company culture are important to understand, determining why a company and role exists is just as, if not more, important.” It will also allow you to better understand if you “align with the company’s mission and will feel a sense of purpose in your new role.”

Tell me about your most successful employees. What do they do differently?

Believe it or not, this one is almost a trick question for potential employers Lavin says. “The answer to this question will help a candidate understand how a company defines success and what specific behaviors can lead to that success.” In one fell swoop you’ll find out what success means to this company and how you can better achieve it.

What do you expect someone in this position to accomplish in the first 60-90 days?
University of Richmond Career Advisor Anna Young says, “Great candidates hit the ground running, find out how you will be expected to jump in and start contributing to the organization from day one.” And in case you’re wondering, it’s fine to modify the question for an internship and ask about expectations for the first few weeks. 

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