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The three golden rules of asking questions in an interview

Avid readers of this blog (we know you’re out there!) will remember that we previously talked about the kind of questions you should expect to be asked in a job interview. The last point we made in that article is something we want to build on this post – what kind of questions you should ask.

So you don’t end up doing your best ‘rabbit in headlights’ impression when this comes up, we’ve highlighted three golden rules we believe you need to follow.

Rule one – Don’t ask questions about the role you should have figured out from the job advert

It goes without saying that before the interview, you should have read the job advert. You should also have made sure you’ve got a list of examples to prove you’re more than up to the job.

When it comes to asking questions about the role, avoid obvious ones such as:

  • What are my responsibilities?
  • How much will I be paid?
  • Will I be working in a team or by myself?

You should try to ask a few questions that probe a little deeper to show you’re interested and want to find out more. Some good examples can include:

  • Is this a newly-created role, or will I be replacing someone who has left?
  • Can you show me some of the projects I will be working on?
  • Can you elaborate on what you said earlier about (blank*)?

Rule two – Don’t ask questions about the company you should have found out beforehand

It’s understandable you may not know a lot about the company and you want to show an interest. However, it doesn’t excuse asking questions that a quick internet search could have helped with. These include such insightful nuggets of wisdom as:

  • So what does your company actually do?
  • Who are you?
  • Who are your competitors?

Don’t make yourself look lazy by asking these questions. Instead, use the opportunity to show off your research skills to find out further information. These could be:

  • Where do you see the company/department in the next couple of years?
  • I saw on your website you recently launched/talked about (blank). Can you go into a bit more detail about what was involved with that?
  • Having researched your company, I would say your competitors are (blank, blank and blank). Would you agree with this?

Rule three – Don’t ask questions about the company’s industry that you should already know

You’re an expert on all matters occurring in the industry (or at least, that’s the impression you want to come across). So don’t ask obvious questions that you should know, such as:

  • What is the (blank) industry all about then?
  • Who are the biggest companies in this industry?
  • Are there any issues affecting the industry?

Showing an insight into the industry you work in will be a big hit with your interviewer. It not only shows you’re thinking about the job itself, but also the bigger picture and the environment the company works in. A good selection of questions can include:

  • There’s been a lot of coverage about (blank) in the news recently. How do you think this will affect the (blank) industry and your company?
  • What has your company been doing to combat recent coverage about (negative news story)?

If you follow these rules, you should be able to think of some really insightful questions to take to the job interview with you.

And avoid the ‘rabbit in headlights’ impression.

*Obviously don’t say the word ‘blank’ when you’re talking. Your interviewer may think they’re on a very confusing episode of ‘Blankety Blank’ if you do.


For more advice and useful resources on navigating the recruitment process click here.

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