Interviews are structured for the benefit of the employer, not the candidate. The employer controls the flow of the interview and gets to ask all of the questions, which the candidate then dutifully answers. It all seems very one-sided and, in reality, it is.
But what about you? Do you get to ask any questions? Yes, you do. Most interviews will end with: "Do you have any questions for me?" You need to be ready in advance with potential questions.
Here are the three best questions to ask an interviewer:
"Can you tell me about the position and the type of person you are seeking to hire?"
Most interviews are one-sided with you talking about you and your background. There is usually very little discussion about the position itself. If you get to the end of the interview and you have received little or no information about the position, this is a great question to ask. Even better is to ask the question early in the interview, since some interviewers will even open the interview by asking if you have any questions. Then, based on what you hear, reply with how your background and skills align with the role and the type of person they are seeking to hire. It provides you with one more opportunity to solidify yourself as the candidate best aligned to the role.
"What are the most important deliverables for this position?"
You are effectively asking for the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the role. This is very helpful for you as a candidate, since most candidates do not get this information until after they are hired. You will know up front what is expected of you in terms of delivery. At the end of the day, every job is about delivering results. So if you can show how you have delivered similar or comparable results in other roles, you will have a big head start on the role and will be positioning yourself as the best potential candidate for the position.
"When do I start?"
This is a bold question and should be reserved for the final interview, ideally with the hiring manager. Keep in mind that you will need to have already fully sold the interviewer(s) on you being the best candidate for the role. This is effectively the "closer" question or "ask for the sale" question. Most great salespeople know that one of the keys to effective selling is being willing to ask for the sale. When you have sold the interviewer on you as a candidate, it’s time to put yourself out there and commit. You can lengthen this question with an intro statement such as this: "From everything I have heard, I feel qualified and ready to begin delivering immediately in this role. When do I start?" While you might think it is a given that the interviewer knows that you are interested, this should not be taken for granted. Your boldness in saying that you are the right candidate for the role and ready to start can be the final differentiator that generates the job offer.
Questions you ask the interviewer are typically at the close of the interview. They will help solidify in the mind of the interviewer whether you are hireable or not. That last impression you leave is often formed in your final question to the interviewer.