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Suppose I am being interviewed and during the end of the interview, the people interviewing me ask me if I have any questions for them.

At this point, should I only ask "deal breaker" questions (questions whose answers play a huge role in me accepting the job or not)? Or is it recommended that I ask questions just out of curiosity as well (questions whose answers wouldn't effect my decision on whether or not I want the job and whose answers I will find out within the first week or so of work anyways)?

Examples of deal break questions for me would be: What salary range should I expect? When should I expect a response by? Is this a company where the workers work and see the manager more often than not or does the manager barely see the workers?

Examples of question I would ask out of curiosity which wouldn't effect my decision that much and which I would find out the answer to when I start working anyways: Would I be allowed to use x/y computer software? Which Operating System would I be coding on (if I get the job)? Would I be working off of existing code / projects or creating on from scratch?

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    A "deal breaker" question means a question where the wrong answer would cause you to not want to work there. You are confusing 'deal breaker" with "important". – DJClayworth May 1 '15 at 15:49
  • Regardless of whether or not you use the opportunity to ask more questions, your most important concern is asking on-topic questions - try not to drift too far away from the position you're interviewing for. – Zibbobz May 1 '15 at 15:54
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    Honestly, your interviewer will be impressed if you ask --any-- question of actual substance. – corsiKa May 1 '15 at 19:19
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The "Do you have any questions for me?" part of the interview, I think, gets blown out of proportion in terms of importance.

It is VASTLY more important that during the interview the candidate be in a dialog with the interviewers. That means asking pertinent authentic questions as they come up, linked to the topics at hand.

Don't wait until the end of the interview to ask important questions upon which your decision hinges. Ask them throughout the interview with each person you talk to.

At the end, if someone asks "Do you have any more questions?" (while checking a check box on a form :-) ), just reiterate your interest in the job and ask what the next steps are in the process. All of your really important questions should ALREADY have been asked at this point. If you want, you can list a couple of the good questions that you asked previously and indicate that they've been answered well-- naming the person who answered them.

  • Good point - if you've got to "Do you have any questions?" and haven't proactively led the conversation at any point, you're not going to be in a good place. – Julia Hayward May 1 '15 at 11:00
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    There are many different styles of interview. The most common in my experience (UK, I.T.) is where the bulk of the interview time is spent by the employer asking the candidate to explain or expand on aspects of their resume and experience. It is not seen to be good form in that format to try and take control of the interview and ask your own questions or take it in a direction you want. I go into interviews with loads of questions and try to get them answered where possible during the session, but I always have some left at the end to ask. Not all interviews allow you to lead the conversation. – Marv Mills May 1 '15 at 13:09
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    @MarvMills, I suppose different locales have different expectations, but asking questions when important topics arise doesn't necessarily mean the candidate is "taking control", it instead demonstrates engagement and willingness to understand. It also give the interviewer an opportunity to clarify things which may have not been clear. Some interview experiences last several hours-- it would be bad judgement for a candidate to wait until the end to ask critical questions. – teego1967 May 1 '15 at 14:37
  • Agreed. Obviously the candidate should ask questions during the process- however in my experience these are usually connected to the topic in hand at that time, rather than generic questions about the job, the role or the company- If you can squeeze them in then fine, but I usually leave these higher level questions until my "slot" at the end, focussing on context-driven detail to show my understanding and experience within the session. However, as you say, there are many different interview formats and structures... – Marv Mills May 1 '15 at 14:58
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    If I'm ever asked if I have any questions, I just use it at as a point to ask for feedback on the interview (since they usually ask on the end). In one case it ended up making the rest of a round of interviews go well since my first interviewer of the day gave me some tips. – Eric May 1 '15 at 16:29
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An interview is a two-way process. Although you, the candidate, are being evaluated it is also the process by which you evaluate the role, the job and company.

Therefore you should ask whatever questions you need in order to enrich your knowledge and decision making process. If at interview I found that the interviewers took offense at my line of questioning, or made it uncomfortable, or otherwise did not support my process of evaluating their company then it is not a company I would want to work for anyway.

Notwithstanding the above, you do need to be aware you will usually only have limited time, you need to ask the questions that provide the most relevant information to your decision-making process. You also need to be aware that although you need to ask your questions to support your decision-making process the usual unwritten rules of professionalism and good interview technique apply. Coming on too aggressively in your questions will be a turn-off for the interviewer(s).

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"Would I be allowed to use x/y computer software? Which Operating System would I be coding on (if I get the job)?" might well be a deal-breaker for some... so first off, there's no way the interviewers will know how important each question is to you, so don't worry about the impression you might be giving. The only real consideration is time - you only have a limited amount, so it would be best for you if you ask questions that

  • are likely to sway your decision as to whether or not to accept an offer, or
  • are likely to lead to conversation which might positively affect what offer you get, for example suggesting particular things you'd like to do or avoid doing.

"Would I be allowed to use x/y computer software?" is a very worthwhile question if it leads to the response "Well, by default a new hire wouldn't, but to avoid the risk of you accepting a rival's offer we'll make sure you can".

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At the end of an interview, when they are still evaluating candidates, is not the place to ask deal breaker questions. At this point, you are still trying to get them to the offer stage.

You should still be asking questions, as well as during the interview, to clarify what the job entails and how you might be a good person to do it. Asking about the management style is fine, as long as you're not implying a certain style is all you will accept. Same with the tools used. You can ask because you're curious, not because you won't accept whatever they have (even if that is not really the case). At the end, more of those types of questions are fine, as well as asking what the next steps are.

But the deal breaker type questions, about salary and benefits, time off, and anything else that makes you sound like you are interested more in what you'll get out of this than what you can offer, or sound like you'll be high maintenance, those questions should wait until you have an offer. Once you have an offer, they are more invested in actually getting YOU, rather than just someone, and they expect those kinds of questions at that time anyway.

If questions like salary, software you'll be using, management styles, etc, come up before then, it's fine to deal with them at the time, and it's fine to write them off if you don't like the answers. But you don't want them to write you off. You want the offer, where you have more bargaining power, because now they want you.

If the interview is hard to get to, or for some other reason, you really won't mind if there isn't a second interview or offer, then asking the deal breaker questions right off is fine. Just realize that if you sound in any way hard to work with, you may not get past the first interview. If you're good enough and you don't care (and that is true for a few people), then yes, ask those right off.

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I will assume that this is for an entry-level/junior position. Please note that this also hugely depends on the culture and the industry.

Keep in mind you can have a great interviewer, you can have a bad one. He or she may be interested in the interview or not. he or she may be experienced or not.

If this is the first interview you want to show the interviewer that you do have a question (per the books) and that this question nicely fits the "interesting but not too demanding" type. Do not take risks here, your "deal-breaker" questions may be inappropriate. The "out of curiosity" ones are much better.

If this is a further interview then, if you feel that the interviewer has a good impression and you do have a good one as well you can expand the scope of the questions as the interview naturally shifts towards a dialogue.

I once hired someone because she had genuinely interesting ending questions which eventually turned into a discussion. It was also important that she obviously was not trying to overplay it.

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