This is an interesting question that was recently posed on a recruiters’ Facebook group.  As I contemplate this question, I see it not as a yes or no question – it is a situational and contextual question.  Let me explain:

  • As a candidate, what is the purpose of asking questions during a job interview?

Take a minute and think about this as I would love to see your thought process behind this before you keep reading.  So, pause here and answer this for yourself.

 

(Pause…and no peeking!)

 

From my experience and perspective, here is what asking questions during your interview does for you:

  • Helps you better understand the industry, company, and role.
    • It is important for you to know what you are getting yourself into. Not only can this impact job satisfaction and retention by choosing the right opportunity, it also sets you on a career path of good roles for your future.
  • Showcases your interest in the role.
    • It is a really big red flag to recruiters if you do not ask questions. The assumptions that are made from this are that you are not interested in the role, you are not professional, and you did not do much research or preparation before the interview (which is crucial…but research is a whole other article that I will write later)
  • Showcases your research and understanding of the industry, company, and role.
    • When the interviewer sees that you have thoughtful and timely questions, they gain a strong confidence in your understanding of and interest in the industry, company, and role. You might ask questions regarding conversations you had with current employees, about recent news publications regarding the company, about recent business dealings of the company (e.g. M&A)…just to name a few.

Now, let us look at the flip side of this question.  Is it possible to ask too many question?

(Pause here to answer for yourself)

 

Again, from my perspective, this is more of a context and intent question.  Here are a few examples of when it could be considered that you are “asking too many questions” (or more so too many of the wrong types of questions) during an interview:

  • If the questions are irrelevant to the industry, company, or position.
  • If the questions showcase your lack of research and understanding of the industry, company, and position (e.g. what does your company do). You should already know the answer to that question.  If it is a complex company to understand and your research does not properly explain this to you, you can simply rephrase by saying, “I know that your company does xxx and focuses on yyy, but can you tell me more about zzz?”
  • If the recruiter scheduled the interview for a specific amount of time, and that time has come to an end. If it is scheduled for 30 minutes but you still have more questions.  Respectfully say that you wish to be cognizant of their time and while you would love to keep picking their brain, you know that the scheduled time has passed.  At this time, the recruiter can then choose to end the conversation if they have to go, or they can offer you more time if they are not already booked.
  • If your questions are perceived by the recruiter with a negative tone. This is hard for me to describe, but just note that you need to keep all interview interactions positive.  You could be asking negatively toned questions if you have a lot of questions like “I see that you have a poor rating on Glassdoor, please explain”, “Tell me why I should want to work here”, and “My last boss was a real jerk – how would you describe the leadership here?”
    • Now, some if this information is still important to know, but it can come down to delivery of question vs. the information you are seeking. For the first example, you can state that while Glassdoor has limitations as people typically only post if they have extremely positive or negative experiences, would you mind commenting on the trend I saw in commentary around XXX?
    • For the third example, you could restate by asking “Can you tell me a little bit about the leadership and management style here?”

 

Long story short, technically you can ask too many questions, but I would argue it comes more down to relevancy, context, and tone.  Hopefully you found this helpful.  If you have further questions in this gray area of interviewing – feel free to post a comment and I will answer!

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