The best way to avoid taking a job you will hate (resulting in another job hunt too soon) is to learn as much as you can about the job, the employer, your boss, your coworkers, and the environment before you accept the job offer.
Job interviews should be as great a source of information for you, as they are for employers. Be ready to answer the common interview questions, but also be prepared to ask your questions in every interview.
Don't feel obligated to wait until the end of the interview to ask your questions. Some questions are appropriate at different times in the interview, as described below, and at different stages of the interview process which often goes several rounds.
Typically, a job seeker with no questions is assumed to be either not interested in the job or not very bright. Employers aren't interested in a candidate who isn't really interested in them or the opportunity.
Specifically, asking your own questions will:
Generally, asking good questions shows that you are both interested and prepared, which will impress the interviewer, and the answers to those questions should also help you decide whether or not you want to work for that employer.
If this is your second interview with this employer, read The Second Interview: 5 Key Questions to Ask. Also, read 45 Questions You Should NOT Ask in a Job Interview for questions to avoid asking.
The job interview process may be simple. You may come in for one set of interviews and be hired. Or, you may have several different interviews on different days and in different locations.
With larger employers, the process is usually longer and more complex with an average of well over 3 weeks to fill a job. Typically, the interview process is comprised of several "rounds" of interviews, and making it past the first round is usually considered a good sign.
If the employer is local for you, the first interview may also be a phone interview which is often called a "phone screen" because that's what usually happens. They screen applicants to determine who may be a qualified candidate to be invited in for a face-to-face interview.
Most of these questions are appropriate for every round of interviewing when you are interviewed by new people (to you) in each round.
If you see the same people again in a 2nd or 3rd round, as part of the interview process for the same job, you probably should not repeat a question unless you want to follow up on something another interviewer said. Hopefully, by that point in the interview process, you hopefully will have learned enough about the person and the job to have developed new questions to ask.
At the start of the interview, understanding the people who are interviewing you will help you provide answers appropriate to the person's role in your work life. You will also become a bit more comfortable talking with the interviewer(s), hopefully turning the interview into a discussion rather than a series of questions and answers.
You should be introduced to each person interviewing you before an interview begins. Make note of the person's name, and ask for their job title if it isn't provided. Ideally, you should receive a business card from the interviewer that contains all relevant information, including their contact information.
Particularly if the person will be a co-worker or your manager, understanding what motivates their questions and interest in you will give you more insight into both them and the job. You will also be able to ask the most relevant questions.
Understanding more about the person will help you choose the next questions to ask, and also help you keep their responses in perspective.
These questions are most relevant when you are meeting an interviewer for the first time. If you are returning for a second or third round of interviews with the same person, you should already know the answers to these questions, so repeating them is not necessary or smart.
Once you understand who is interviewing you, you can move on to asking these questions as appropriate during the interview.
Ask questions that will help you determine if you would actually like the job, and be able to do it well.
Understanding more about the job will help you decide if the job feels like a good fit for you. The questions above will also give you an idea about the kind of working environment you would be joining -- the corporate culture. That culture may expect people to work 50 hours a week (or more) and in the office.
Visit the employer's website and do some quick Google research before the interview. Search for reviews of the employer's products or services, the executives, and other news. Also search for reviews ot the products or services.
Ask about anything else in your preparation that raised questions for you. Read Smart Google Research for Successful Job Interviews for leveraging Google before the interview.
As the interview winds down, or when the interviewer has indicated that the interview is ending, you need to ask these end-of-the-interview questions.
Tell the interviewer that you are very interested in the job and enthusiastic about joining the organization. Then, finish by asking these questions.
Use your judgement about the interviewer and the situation. Some interviewers will like this approach and the confidence you are demonstrating by asking these questions, but others will not. Do what feels comfortable and appropriate to you.
These questions are usually best in one-on-one interviews. If it feels appropriate, ask:
If they answer these questions (and they might not!), those answers will give you an indication of how well you did in the interview and perhaps an opportunity to clarify a question they might have about your qualifications to do the job.
Then, be sure to ask the 5 essential MUST-ASK "housekeeping" questions so that you will understand how the employer's hiring process works -- what comes next and who will be your contact. If you don't ask these questions, you will have no idea when you will hear from them next or where they are in their process which will be very stressful (and discouraging) for you.
Or, you will be in contact with the wrong person at the wrong time, and look either desperate or annoying.
Your goals are to gather as much information as you can about the job and to make a good impression on the interviewer(s). Asking good questions, as above, will help you do both.
Be sure to send a thank you after EVERY interview! For help, see the articles in Guide to Writing Thank You Notes After a Job Interview including Sample Thank You Notes (and Emails)
Don't just mechanically go through the list of questions above -- that will be interpreted as lack of interest and/or lack of intelligence. Neither interpretation will be good for your candidacy.
For more, read Killer Do's and Don'ts for Job Interview Success.
Gather as much information as you can in the job interview. Decide if you really want this job in this organization working with these people. Then, be prepared for the whole process to take too much time. NEVER stop your job search and wait for a job offer to come. You are probably one of at least three other candidates for any job, and they may well choose someone else -- or not fill this job.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.