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Congratulations. You’ve made it this far in the interview process!
Your networking, company research, and targeted resume all paid off and here you sit, in the interviewee’s seat for a killer job that you really want. So far, the job interview has gone well. Your story is tight, you nailed difficult questions for which you prepared, and you’ve articulated why you’re a good fit to your interviewer. You’re looking like the perfect candidate for this opportunity. Yet, with a few minutes remaining, a final test of the interview process awaits.
Time to switch roles with your interviewer as she wraps up with one simple ask: Do you have any questions?
Now your questions, not answers, will provide clues to the hiring manager about how you’ll perform as an employee.
Both you and your interviewer know that job success isn’t created from a list of rehearsed answers. On a daily basis, you must figure out how to drive results with uncertain and incomplete information. Asking the hiring manager strategic questions is the first step. So, this, too, is now your task.
Below is a list of 13 questions, organized in five key areas, which will help you and your interviewer gather information and assess any outstanding concerns. One caveat: Be selective. You should aim to ask your potential employer at least one–not all–of the questions in each area:
Demonstrate That You Do Your Homework
When you prepped for the interview, you researched everything you could about the company. This should have included tracking important business developments–e.g. a new product launch, acquisition, market entry–from niche data sources like an industry news source or company annual report.
Ask a question that demonstrates that you’re serious about data and connect the dots:
Example: “I read in x report, that women and millennial consumers are the largest growing customer segments in the industry. How do you target them?”
Focus on the Big Picture
Show that you can step away from day-to-day management tasks to deliver priorities aligned with the company’s future. Frame a question that shows your strategic thinking:
How is this role key to the company’s strategy?
What are the company’s long-term priorities for the next 3-5 years?
Show You Mean Business
Starting day one, you must know what success looks like. Confirm exactly what is expected of you. Ask a question that gives your boss confidence that you will deliver results:
- What must I deliver in my first 30 days?
- What are the critical KPI’s for this year?
- How do you measure success for this role?
- What challenges do you anticipate with this role?
- Which colleagues are good mentors for me in this role and why?
Build a Relationship with Your Potential Employer
Your boss needs to count on and also trust you. If you haven’t figured out your interviewer’s personality and what’s most important to her, you won’t ace your interview. Pause from work-related questions and probe into what makes your boss tick:
- Why did you choose to work here? (or What are your professional goals?)
- What should I know about your communication and/or leadership style?
- I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you previously x (mention a fact that struck you). How did that influence your current role? (Note: If you share something in common, emphasize a connection – for example, if you both worked overseas or are alumni of the same school.)
Focus on Next Steps
Your final goal is to reduce any uncertainty that you or your interviewer may have about your candidacy. Seal the deal by addressing doubts head-on:
- Do you have any concerns about my fit for the role? (Be prepared to acknowledge them and reframe to your advantage)
- What are next steps and time line for your decision?
Hopefully, next steps will lead to an offer. If you inquire with confidence, you stand a good chance of impressing your interviewer, because you’ve demonstrated your ability to think critically, fully understand the role, and engage with your potential employer—no question about it.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.
Susan Margolin writes and conducts research for corporate clients. Previously, she worked in marketing and business development for more than a decade in Asia. She holds degrees from Harvard (BA, MPA) and Northwestern University (MBA).