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Take Google, for example. According to them, they have 1-2 phone interviews and up to 5 on-site interviews.

That's up to 7 basically separate interviews for the same position.

I know it's generally advantageous (although not strictly necessary) to have one or more questions to ask at the end of the interview.

But am I really expected to have 7 or more things I want to know (i.e. one for every interview, even those on the same day)?

For the sake of argument, assume these are with different interviewers, as a single interviewer might be less inclined to see you not asking a question during the 4th interview with you negatively if you asked questions during the previous 3, for example.

PS - I'm not asking "What can I ask?", but rather "Am I expected to ask?", although general types of questions related to different stages of multi-stage interviewing would be appreciated, assuming they differ at all.

PPS - I realize that asking a good question can only help, at any stage, I'm rather wondering whether there is, from an interviewer side, an expectation to do so (i.e. not doing so would come across negatively rather than neutrally).

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My go-to question (if I have nothing else) is some variation of "What are your favorite and least favorite things about working here?". It's something that you can (and maybe even should) ask every single person in the interview process, as their answers will likely be different. From what I've read elsewhere, people are generally expecting at least one question (it shows interest in the company, etc). So my recommendation: Have a fallback question and ask it if you can't think of (or in addition to) anything else. I like my question since it makes the interviewer do some thinking :D –  Ross Aiken Mar 28 at 20:31
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God, I'm glad I'm freelance. –  Jason C Mar 29 at 21:09

6 Answers 6

But am I really expected to have 7 or more things I want to know (i.e. one for every interview, even those on the same day)?

Yes.

When you are asked "Do you have any questions for me?" it's generally best to have at least one. As a hiring manager or as part of a group of interviewers, when I interview a candidate, and there are absolutely no questions, I wonder if she/he is really interested. And sometimes I wonder if the candidate has bothered to be well-prepared.

It doesn't have to be a different question for each. You could ask

  • Tell me what you need from [the role for which you are applying]
  • I heard [an earlier interviewer] mention [something that you found interesting] - can you tell me more?
  • How do you like working for [someone who will be a common boss]?
  • etc

You can get creative, or be repetitive if you must. But, yes - I would expect at least one question.

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completely agree. It's seven questions for the interviewee but one question for the interviewer. –  tedder42 Apr 3 at 20:26

Personally, I prepare my questions prior to the in-person interview and take my handy-dandy notebook with me. I ask in-depth questions that steer the interview process to my strengths. I attempt to have my questions be what they remember from the interview because I know I can focus on my strengths with my questions.

For example (I am in QA):

  • I have extensive coding knowledge with multiple different languages, how would this fit into your QA department?

This question serves multiple purposes and is typically asked to everyone I meet with in the interview process. It sees if they are interested, and how they are interested, in my personal skill set while pushing the fact that I have a strong skill set in this area that sets me above the crowd.

  • I am passionate about developing testing tools and utilities in my downtime, how does the company respond to changes that will (hopefully) implement a better, more efficient method of performing my duties?

This, again, sales you while asking a question about how the company feels about change.

  • How is the culture between Dev and Test? For example, upon discovery of a defect I will typically explore the defect and discover how far it impacts, if I filed this info into the defect would the Dev team consider this as helpful or insulting?

Again, I am pushing my skills while asking the question regarding the relationship between 2 departments.

Remember, you are interviewing the company too. But the questions section of the interview is where you really get to stand out from the other people who have interviewed and steer it in the direction you want it to go.

Disclaimer:

These questions are just examples and reasoning behind them. I have a list of about 30 - 40 questions that I use and I use different ones for different interviewers depending on how I feel the interview went and what their expertise is (For example, asking an HR rep if the Department uses X,Y or Z tools will just confuse them). Set up a list of questions you feel are appropriate for your field, and see what benefits they offer to the interviewer's perception of you while gaining information as to whether you want to work for that company or not.


PS - I'm not asking "What can I ask?", but rather "I am expected to ask?", although general types of questions related to different stages of multi-stage interviewing would be appreciated, assuming they differ at all.

PPS - I realize that asking a good question can only help, at any stage, I'm rather wondering whether there is, from an interviewer side, an expectation to do so (i.e. not doing so would come across negatively rather than neutrally).

Yes, I would assume it is expected and that it reflects negatively. They want you to do research about the company but they want to know you are a good cultural fit and that you will stay with the company long term. If you ask nothing about the company there is 2 logical things a recruiter can think.

1) You don't care about the culture.

2) You are not interested in the position.

I don't think either would be good for you. Now, some interviewers might be extremely busy and if they seem to be busy, just state simply 'The majority of my questions have already been answered by x,y and z. Thanks a lot for spending your time with me, I will let you go now.' would be acceptable. Otherwise, be prepared to ask questions to each interviewer.

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"take my handy-dandy notebook with me" - Does it have a really thick crayon stuffed in the spiral binding? :) –  alroc Mar 28 at 15:14
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It is. But I do seriously carry it and call it that. –  PaulDonny Mar 28 at 16:33

You are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.

Having the opportunity to ask people who work for that company anything you want is a wonderful opportunity.

But am I really expected to have 7 or more things I want to know (i.e. one for every interview, even those on the same day)?

You could have one question you ask everyone. But in light of the above, you would want to have better questions.

Not having any questions shows lack of interest. Even if you've been interviewing all day. At least say something like, "you know, most of my company specific questions have been answered previously, do you have anything I should know about working for this company?" instead of "nope, no questions!"

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If during the course of your interviews you ask pointed questions in response to the topics being discussed, that is what really demonstrates that you're engaged and properly inquisitive.

In other words, you should be asking the questions in the middle of the interview. Treat the interview as a conversation. In addition to creating a nice impression, it makes the interviewer more comfortable and gives you background on the job/company.

I agree that coming up with additional questions to ask after potentially hours of back-and-forth Q/A, can be hard to do. It absolutely can feel forced and awkward.

Some interviewers clearly just ask that question to signal the close of the interview. If you've asked plenty of good questions and covered everything of importance, then don't worry too much about "the last question". I have had no problems when asked "Do you have any other questions?" and answered with "No, I think we covered everything, it was a pleasure speaking with you, blah, blah, blah."

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I would expect an interviewer to anticipate questions from you to confirm you're truly enthusiastic about joining the company. By having no questions you risk leaving an unmemorable impression at best, unenthusiastic impression at worst.

Doesn't mean you should force fluff questions in - I agree with JeffO's quote: "It doesn't matter if you ask the same question, it could help get a different perspective" - you can simply tell them what you asked a previous interviewer and ask them to expound on that with their own personal viewpoint.

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When you have multiple interviews, often the interviewers are pulled from different parts of the company, so you should have questions for them. It doesn't matter if you ask the same question, it could help get a different perspective.

HR - ask questions about the hiring process and benefits packages. Senior Exec - You may not always get a person high up in the company, but when you do ask about the future direction and any large plans. Direct Supervisor - Ask how the team is made up and how it is managed and expectations. Team members/coworkers - take the opportunity to get their interpretation of how the team is run and the future plans of the company. If these responses are out of synch with management that could be a problem.

It is difficult to predict who is going to make the hiring decision. Maybe everyone has an equal vote or the direct supervisor picks, but everyone else could veto a pick if they have serious concerns. Since you don't know, make the best out of all the interviews. Look like you care by asking questions and get the information you need to make the best decision possible.

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