At some point during a job interview, it's your turn. You've answered a number of questions (possibly even some of the 27 most common job interview questions.) Now you get to ask the interviewer a few questions.
Some job candidates don't actually care about the answers to the questions they ask; they are just trying to look good by asking what they hope are great questions.
Others genuinely care about the answers -- because they're still trying to decide whether they actually want the job. (And, of course, as a secondary benefit they hope the interviewer will be impressed by the quality of those questions.)
So if that's you -- if you hope to ask the interviewer questions that you really want answered, and you want to make a good impression in the process -- here are some of the best questions you can ask during a job interview.
1. "What top skills and qualities do all of your top performers have in common?"
Great people want to be great employees. They know every organization is different -- and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations.
Maybe the top performers work longer hours. Maybe creativity is more important than methodology. Maybe constantly landing new customers in new markets is more important than building long-term customer relationships. Maybe being willing to spend the same amount of time educating an entry-level customer as helping an enthusiast who wants high-end equipment is what really makes a difference..
Ultimately, you 1) want to know if you will fit in, and 2) if you do fit in, how you can be a top performer.
2. "What is the key driver of results in this job?"
Employees are investments, and employers expect employees to generate a positive return on their salaries. (Otherwise why have them on the payroll?)
In every job, some activities make a bigger difference than others. Maybe you need your HR team to fill job openings, but what you really want is for them to find the right candidates, because that results in higher retention rates, lower training costs, and better overall productivity. Maybe you need your service techs to perform effective repairs, but what you really want is for those techs to identify ways to solve problems and provide other benefits -- in short, to build customers relationships and even generate additional sales.
You want to know what truly makes a difference and drives results, because you know that helping the company succeed means you will succeed as well.
3. "What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 90 days?"
You want to hit the ground running. You don't want to spend weeks or months "getting to know the organization." You don't want to spend huge chunks of time in orientation, in training, or in the futile pursuit of getting your feet wet.
You want to make a difference -- and you want to make that difference right now.
4. "What are the company's highest priority goals this year, and how would my role contribute?"
Is the job you will fill important? Does it matter?
You want a job with meaning, with a larger purpose -- and you want to work with people who approach their jobs the same way.
Otherwise a job... is just a job.
5. "What percentage of your employees were 'recruited' by existing employees?"
Employees who love their jobs naturally recommend their company to their friends and peers.
The same is true for people in leadership positions -- people naturally try to bring on board talented people they previously worked with. They've built relationships, developed trust, and shown a level of competence that made someone go out of their way to follow them to a new organization.
And all of that speaks incredibly well to the quality of the workplace and the culture.
6. "What do employees do in their spare time?"
Happy employees 1) like what they do, and 2) like the people they work with.
Granted, this can be a tough question to answer. Unless the company is really small, all the interviewer can do is speak in generalities. Or he or she can pick out a few people and describe what they do outside of work -- and if they can't even do that, they don't know your employees nearly well enough.
(And of course what people do outside of work may not reflect how they are to work with. I've known people who were supremely driven and focused on achieving goals outside of work... and totally lazy while at work. But still.)
You want to be sure of having a reasonable chance of fitting in on a personal level as well as a professional level, because to many people, cultural fit is extremely important.
And even if it's not important to you, it does help to know what you're getting into.