Do you have any questions you would like to ask us?

Yes, you do. The question is also a check of your level of information, and your level of interest.

Many interviewees are too shell-shocked to ask questions, and most usually return to consciousness when they get home, realizing the things they don't know and really should have asked.

Why you should ask questions

There are some things you really do need to know. These can be basic, or very complex. Some can be critical.

For example:

About the job itself:

Wages/retainers
Conditions
Hours
Shifts
Health care
Package entitlements
Specific issues in relation to the job which are unclear
Workloads
Allowances
Expenses

About the employer:

Organizational questions
Promotion opportunities
Training
Career issues
Personal needs
Equal Opportunity
Topics relating to current business

Considerations when asking your questions

There's a lot you might need to know that simply isn't on the radar when you apply for the job. More effort is usually put into the application process than into research.

That puts quite a lot of applicants at a disadvantage.

They don't have enough information to ask questions. So they can't use the question to show an interest. That means anyone who does have questions looks a lot more interested in the job and the employer.

The reason is simple enough. The level of interest equates to the quality of the questions you ask.

An intelligent question might well get an intelligent reply, too. Interviews can be very restrictive in terms of the things you want to know or talk about.

You can introduce subjects, and if you appear better informed than the other candidates, it's probably because you are.

Strategy in asking your questions

There's a strategy to asking the right questions.

Everything about interviews is a matter of adding quality. Basic content is important, but it's also the stuff you should know. The extra knowledge and expertise is very much where you differentiate yourself from others.

Example:

The interview is about a counter job at a bank. The applicant is being hired as a basic teller. This is an extremely straightforward interview, and most of the other applicants are ex-tellers. So far all applicants are pretty much the same.

So our applicant takes a much more advanced approach, when asked if she has any questions:

Applicant: I know the bank has a lot of term deposits, and other financial packages available. Are tellers supposed to draw customers' attention to packages? Do we give out free information with the receipts, for example?

Interviewer: We do encourage our tellers to mention term deposits when they see a certain amount in a savings account. We haven't been really looking at actually providing information like that. Interesting thought, though, and as it is the brochures and things just sit there…. Good idea, Fred?

Fred ( supervisor and panelist) Much more cost effective, yes. We spend a fortune printing those things.

They're not likely to forget this applicant, who's got them thinking. Among a largely identical series of qualifications, in what is basically a fairly standardized job, anything which identifies the applicant and makes them stand out is a definite plus.