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We all know that preparing for a graduate job interview involves practicing your answers to questions posed by an employer (and for help with this, see our previous posts on answering questions like 'why should we hire you?' and 'why do you want to work for us?') – but what about when the tables are turned and the interviewer asks you: do you have any questions for me?
The chance to ask questions at the end of your graduate job interview is your opportunity to find out details of the role you’ve been dying to know – so if you’ve been wondering what the company culture is like, or would like to find out a little more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, it is the best time to find out if the role is right for you.
It’s also a great opportunity to impress the employer - by demonstrating to them how interested you are in the company and how well-suited you would be to the role. Having no questions to ask is as much of a red flag to an employer as not having an answer to one of theirs – because it indicates that you either don’t care about the job, or that you failed to properly prepare for the interview.
It seems like asking a question should be a lot easier than answering one, doesn’t it? Well in a high-pressure interview situation, probably not – it might be tricky to come up with a question that will come across well, whilst demonstrating that you have done your research about the company. There’s nothing worse than drawing a blank in a graduate job interview, so it’s vital that you prepare some questions beforehand. But in order to decide upon the best questions to ask, it’s important to understand what an employer is actually trying to find out from the questions you ask them.
An interview is a two-way street that should allow both you and the employer to decide if you are the right fit for the role. The questions they ask you throughout the interview will allow them to decide whether you would be a good fit – and when the tables are turned it will give you the opportunity to find out if you think you will be well-suited, too.
The type of questions you ask the employer will reveal a lot about the aspects of the role you are interested in – so whether you ask about the demands of the role, the company culture, or where they see the job progressing, it will allow both of you to assess whether or not you are the right person for the job.
If you don’t have any questions to ask the employer, or you ask a series of very generic questions, it will indicate that you don’t know a whole lot about the company. On the contrary, asking an employer fantastic questions can be a great way to show off how well you have researched the company. If you have done your research and you know about what the company do, their core values and a few of their clients, this will come across in the kind of questions that you ask. If you have the chance, drop in things you already know about their business – try leading with ‘I saw on your website that... and I wanted to ask about…’
When employers give you the opportunity to ask questions at the end of an interview, they want to see that you care about the role you have applied for, and that you are eager to impress them. Sometimes, the questions themselves aren’t as important as the fact that you can show real interest in the role – so asking questions you genuinely want to know the answer to is a great way to show the employer that you care.
Not having any questions to ask an employer is a huge red flag – so you should always have a minimum of 4 or 5 ready to go, in case the interviewer asks 'do you have any questions for me?'. If you think up a great question during the course of the interview then go ahead and ask it, but having a few prepared beforehand will leave you with enough to ask even if some are already addressed. Plus, having a few questions in your locker will ensure that you feel fully prepared - and give you the confidence to ace your interview.
Asking presumptuous, overly personal or vague questions is a big no-no. As a general rule, avoid asking questions that make you sound like you think you’ve already got the job - like “when can I take time off?” or “where will I be sitting?” - as well as anything that makes you sound as if you’re disinterested in the role - like “what does the company do?” or “what is your job?”
When you’re sat in a high-pressure situation like an interview, it’s tempting to take a breather and zone out while the interviewer answers your questions - but it’s really important to try to listen to their answers. The employer will be able to tell if you are not listening to their answer – plus, if you have asked questions you actually want to know the answer to then you should actually be interested in hearing what they have to say. Their answers will offer valuable insight into the nature of the job, and you don’t want to end up repeating yourself later on! It pays to listen and really take in what the employer is saying.
We’ve covered why employers want you to ask these questions, and we’ve covered what not to say – and here’s some examples of some killer interview questions you should be asking!
The opportunity to ask questions at the end can be the make or break of your graduate interview – so use it to your advantage and prepare the best questions you can.
Read our complete guide to Interview Questions
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