First, remember: ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. Many recruiters make up their minds about a candidate within seconds of meeting them. You have the opportunity during the interview to build on that potential positive first impression or to change their mind.

Part of this will involve asking intelligent and useful questions. My clients always ask me whether they should ask questions. How many question? Too many might seem to question the role and challenge the person too much specially if it is the first interview.

First, try to create and build rapport. Building rapport may be more important than impressing with expertise. The interview is often less about your factual knowledge, more about “what are you like to work with?” This is easier to convey if you are in a discussion (two-way questions) rather than an interrogation (one-way questions). You can ask questions about their questions, provided they are intelligent ones and not too many.

How you use your opportunity to ask questions? You need to find out as much as possible about the job and the process, including success criteria, tasks/structure, why the vacancy exists, why (if relevant) the last person left and how long they were in the job.

Examples of good questions:

  • Why is there a vacancy?
  • What is the make-up of the team in terms of experience?
  • What is the culture of the team?
  • Who is your manager? And how do you work together?
  • What interesting projects do you have planned for the next 6 months
  • What is the most important thing I could do in the first 90 days to help
  • What do you think makes company x stand out as an employer?
  • What strengths and weaknesses do you see in me?
  • I read in the paper that your company”………” What does this mean?
  • What will my first 7-10 days involve?
  • What are the success criteria of this role?

Finally, use the last question to confirm your interest.

You have now asked all your questions. You think they have asked all theirs. It’s time to be winding up and as a sign that this is about to happen, you are asked ‘Is there anything else you wish to ask?’

Thank them for the thoroughness of their briefing and demonstrate your interest in a continued future relationship by asking the timetable for the next step.

If you know other good questions to ask at interviews, please share!!