The Importance of Asking Questions in an Interview

Posted by The Editors on December 5, 2011
The Importance of Asking Questions in an Interview

After graduating college, my first job interview went a lot like most recent graduates’ first interviews. I was nervous, regretted that bowl of oatmeal, wishing I went for the box of Wheaties (it’s the breakfast of champions, after all) and had that horrible feeling that I’d forgotten something important.

But just as my college advisor recommended, I researched the company, printed out extra copies of my resume, bought a suit to wear, and prepped for any curve ball questions that could have come my way. Being the naive college grad that I was, I thought I was golden. Unfortunately, one thing my advisor never suggested was that I come with my own set of questions to ask the interviewer. Big mistake.

When the interviewer asked if I had any questions, there was an awkward moment of silence and a look of disappointment on my interviewer’s face that clearly read “amateur hour.” Ouch.

Fortunately for you, you can learn from my mistake. Here’s the 411 on why asking questions in an interview is important. Armed with these tips, you can look and sound like a pro—even if you’re an amateur. 

It shows that you’re in this conversation, too.
An interview should be a two-way street. This is an opportunity for both you and your interviewer to ask questions and get to know each other. Unless you’re prompted to wait until the end to ask questions, don’t be afraid to pepper them throughout the interview. This allows for better conversation flow and you won’t have to worry about remembering what you wanted to ask later on.

It shows you’re interested in the company and the job.
If you really want the job, you’re going to have questions you’ll want answered. Unless you’re sitting across from a mind reader, your interviewer isn’t going to know what you’re thinking, so it’s up to you to ask. It’s best to bring a sheet of paper with a few questions written down so you don’t forget in the heat of the moment.

It shows you’re enthusiastic.
Yes, it’s okay to be excited about the job and let your interviewer know it.

It shows you’re knowledgeable.
This is where all that pre-interview research about the company comes into play. If you know they’ve just been mentioned in the press for doing great charitable work, show that you’ve been paying attention by bringing it up and asking how customers are responding to it. 

It shows you come prepared.
Interviewers expect you to ask questions. Whether it’s during or after the interview, being prepared shows you mean business and you’re serious about the position.

Need some helping thinking up questions to ask? Check out these articles for great suggestions:

Grilling You Interviewer

Grilling Your Interviewer (and Getting Grilled Back)

About the Author