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.
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.