As mentioned before, I have been on both sides of the desk during interviews quite a bit. Usually toward the end, the candidate is given the opportunity to ask some questions. Don’t be fooled—the interview is not over yet. This section is actually pretty important.
DO NOT ASK ABOUT BENEFITS!
When given the opportunity to ask a question toward the end of the interview, do not ask some lame questions like, “How are the benefits?” or “Do you like working here?” These questions will pretty much disqualify you with many hiring managers.
This part of the interview allows you to showcase your strengths one more time. You can ask questions that demonstrate that you understand the bigger picture and that you not only have technical skills, but business skills, as well. You can show leadership skills in this section of the interview. A good question to ask is something like:
“I know you and I understand what computer virtualization (replace this with an important piece of technology or business process that matches your situation) can mean to a business. What’s the overall take from upper management about virtualization?”
Another good question is about business growth and how your responsibilities will eventually be affected. Some companies have a solid growth strategy, and this might open doors for people who have not only technical skills, but also business skills.
However, before you try to come up with questions like the ones above, you need to prepare yourself. For example, for one job I had to go through several rounds of interviews. A fairly generic phone interview with the hiring manager was followed by a tough technical interview. After that, I met with the hiring manager and his manager. So, you need to tailor your questions for each level. If you are going through a technical interview with other system administrators or a team lead, questions about business strategy are not the right ones to ask. Having an interview with a director or a VP on the other side is a better time to ask questions like the one above.
A phone interview with an HR representative should have you ask questions about the hiring process, time frame… stuff like that. Do not ask about benefits at that point, either. The HR rep will probably mention a few things—leave it like that. Benefits matter when it really comes to an offer down the road.
So, putting some effort into preparing some questions for the “Do you have any questions for us?” section can pay off in a big way.
Important: Even if you might not get the opportunity to ask questions, have some ready. Not having a single question ready if you are asked makes you look bad and can destroy a good impression that you eventually built up during the interview.