You just made it through a grueling job interview and think you nailed your answers. You talked about your strengths and feel confident you did a good job validating your ability to do the work. But then, the hiring manager asks, "Do you have any questions for me?"  Suddenly, you aren't sure what to do next, Should you quit while you're ahead and get out of there? Or, go ahead and ask the 20+ questions racing through your brain? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Too Many Questions = You Could Be High-Maintenance

Something I was taught early on in my HR and recruiting career is whatever you observe about candidates in the interview process should be multiplied by ten to get a sense of what they'll really be like once they're in the job a few months. Anyone can pull it together for a job interview. But, once safely in the new role, it's common to relax and let the true-self start to show. For example, if the candidate has trouble keeping their answers concise and on topic, the assumption is they'll struggle to stay focused on tasks. When it comes to a candidate asking questions, the two extremes speak volumes. Fail to ask any questions and you look unprepared and disinterested. Meanwhile, asking too many questions makes you seem self-centered (i.e. you like to hear yourself talk). Or even worse, you're high-maintenance and require tons attention to do your job. Time is money. Companies pay you to get results, not waste their day asking questions you should be able to figure out for yourself.

What's The Right Amount Of Questions To Ask? That Depends...

Choosing the right amount of questions to ask depends on how much information was already provided in the interview and the personality of the individual interviewing you.

You need to have enough emotional intelligence to recognize whether or not asking more than 2-3 questions will be seen as overkill. Here are 4 tips to ensure you figure this out:

1. Come prepared with a list of all the questions you want to be answered. Do your homework and type up what you want to know so your head isn't spinning in the interview.

2. Ask permission to pull the list out to review it. This is a great way to show how prepared you are and keeps the hiring manager from being caught off-guard.

3. Cross out the ones already answered. There's nothing worse than asking a question that's been addressed. Limit your questions to what's not been covered.

4. Ask open-ended questions. If you phrase the question correctly, the person will need to respond with more than a one-word answer. The more they talk, the more valuable information you'll get. 

P.S. - When in doubt, leave it out.

Not sure if a question is appropriate? Then, don't ask! You don't want to ask something that will disqualify you from the process (i.e. asking about what the job pays too early). Remember, the goal of an interview is to show the hiring manager how you will exceed their expectations to ensure you'll save or make the company enough money to justify hiring you. While you certainly need to gather information to decide if you want the job, the goal is to get to the point where they've decided you're their first choice. At which point, you sit in the driver's seat and increase the likelihood you can negotiate for what you want without feeling awkward.

Published on: Aug 13, 2018