What to Ask at Your Interview

Don’t stay quiet when it’s your turn to ask questions. Try these 10.

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Alison Green
The best job interviews aren't one-sided interrogations but rather two-way conversations designed to let both sides figure out if they'd be a good fit. Since your goal shouldn't be just to get a job offer but to land in a position in which you'll thrive and in an environment you won't dread as you come to work every day, you should be interviewing the interviewer right back.

Yet, I encounter many candidates who don't have many—or even any—questions when I ask what I can answer for them. While this isn't fatal, asking the right questions shows a level of thoughtfulness and engagement. After all, your interviewer wants to know that you're interested in the details of the job, the department you'll be working in, your prospective supervisor's management style, and the culture of the organization. Otherwise, you risk signaling that you're either not that interested or just haven't thought very much about it.

Here are 10 questions to consider asking:

1. Why is this position open?

2. What are the biggest challenges or obstacles the person in this position will face?

3. Can you describe a typical day or week in the position?

4. What would a successful first year in the position look like?

5. How will the success of the person in this position be measured?

6. Thinking back to the person whom you've seen do this job best, what made their performance so outstanding?

7. How would you describe the culture here?

8. How would you describe your management style?

9. Are there reservations you have about my fit for the position? (This is a great way to give yourself the chance to tackle any doubts they might have about you—as well as for you to consider whether those doubts might be reasonable and point to a bad fit.)

10. When do you expect to make a hiring decision?

Alison Green is chief of staff for a medium-size nonprofit where she oversees day-to-day management of the staff as well as hiring, firing, and staff development. She is working with the Management Center to coauthor a book on nonprofit management. Her writings have been published in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Maxim, and dozens of other newspapers. She blogs at Ask a Manager.