Smart questions to ask your interviewer that your uni never taught you about

job interview tips
Job interviews can be stressful but with the right preparation, you might just land your dream job. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

You can read up on all the job interview tips out there but nothing really prepares you for the real thing. Because let’s face it – job interviews can be stressful, regardless of whether you’re applying for an entry-level position or whether you have some experience under your belt. 

But it’s nothing a little strategic preparation can’t help to ensure you perform at your very best.

Job interviews are your chance to leave the best first impression on your interviewer.

It also gives you a chance to show off your qualifications and position yourself as the best candidate for the role. 

The most basic job interview tips include researching the company and having an understanding of how you will be contributing to the company in your role; dressing and looking smart; and practising answering interview questions. 

And just as you thought the hard part is over, next comes the question: “So, do you have any questions for us?” 

The opportunity to ask questions at the end of a job interview is one you don’t want to waste.

It’s both a chance to continue to prove yourself and to find out whether a position is a right fit for you. 

Want to make an impression on your interviewer? Below are some smart questions to ask and some not-so-basic job interview tips: 

job interview tips

Asking questions at the end of the interview is a great way to leave a good impression on your interviewer. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AFP

Focus on two goals 

Interview experts Art Markman, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and John Lees, a UK-based career strategist share their job interview tips stating there are two main goals to focus on. 

One, use these questions to help you determine if this opportunity is right for you. Two, continue to prove you’re a fit for the specific opportunity even after the interview has ended.

Here, Lees suggests saying something like, “I do have a few questions but before I ask, can I say one thing?”

That will give you the opening to drive home any key messages about your suitability for the job. 

Decide on two or three messages that you want to get across and convey those points if you haven’t already mentioned them in response to the questions you’ve been asked so far. 

Personalise your questions 

Phrasing your questions at this stage is important. The tip is to ask questions as if they’re specific to you. 

For example, instead of “What does a typical day look like?” you want to ask “What would a typical day for me in this role look like?” 

According to Lees, this is a “great psychological trick” because it helps hiring managers visualise you in that role and “it’s hard to let go of that image.”

Build off the conversation 

This is among the more important job interview tips around — highlight certain things you’re interested to learn more about.

You can follow up on a project they mentioned you’d be working on, or a responsibility that you didn’t see in the job description.

This helps create a continuation of the conversation and your continued interest.

Job interview tips for international students

If you’re an international student applying for job interviews, here are a few things to keep in mind.

In the US, there are laws in place to protect against discrimination.

This includes a provision that does not allow hiring based on national origin, birthplace, cultural background, heritage, religion, or ancestry.

But, your future employers are allowed to ask about your reasons to choose to work in the US. It’s important to differentiate the kind of questions you’re obligated to answer.

Legal questions 

  • Are you currently authorised to work in the US without restrictions?
  • Will you now or in the near future require employment visa sponsorship (for example, the H-1B visa)?

Illegal questions

  • What country are you from?
  • Are you from the Middle East?
  • What religion are you?

Read here to learn more about what employers want from international students.

Questions to ask at the end of the interview 

1. Questions about the company

Avoid asking questions that can be easily found in a quick Google Search. Instead, try these:

  • What are the company’s plans for growth and development?
  • What criteria or objectives will be used to assess my performance?
  • How would you describe the company’s values

2. Questions about the team

  • What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
  • What are the biggest challenges that I might face in this position?
  • Who will I work with most closely? What other departments or units will I interact with?

3. Questions about your role 

  • What are your expectations for me in this role?
  • What’s the most important thing I should accomplish in the first 90 days?
  • What’s the performance review process like here? How often would I be formally reviewed?
  • What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?

4. Questions about professional development

  • What learning and development opportunities will I have in this role?
  • What are the common career paths in this department?
  • How are promotions typically handled?

5. Closing questions

  • What am I not asking you that I should?
  • Is there anything I clarify for you about my qualifications?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?