We’ll start with one statement: The interviewers expects you to be genuine.
We know there are probably hundreds of online and printed articles about the smartest questions you can come up with. It all comes down to you and the opportunity in front of you.
Let’s start with you.
There are a lot of things that are important to you, and only a handful that is crucial. Those are typical aspects that reflect what you expect of your life, career, the people or things that make you happy and fulfilled, and not least your health (this is a short list, you certainly have your own). You are there because in one way or another the job opportunity you’re interviewing for contributes to what’s critical to you. Once you’ve figured that out, think about what kind of questions you could ask that will clarify whether pursuing the job opportunity will contribute to what’s critical to you.
For instance, you may think: “In the long run, I want to be an outstanding business consultant, however, I don’t have any experience right now, so it’s crucial I get a job that helps me grow towards that ideal role.” so your question for the interviewer might be: “How does the company plan for professional development/growth?”
Or you may think: “it’s crucial that I work for organizations that value a healthy culture that encourages creativity, instead of a top-down” so your question to the interviewer might be: “Could I meet some of the people I’d be working with?” If they are open to the idea, it will be a good way to tell what kind of culture you’d be dealing with.
Then continue with them
In the same way, think about what’s important to the company, why have they even posted this job? Is it because they’re growing? Is it because someone left? Is it because someone got promoted? Is it because it’s part of their strategy? Some questions you may ask:
“How does this role help the company?”
“What made the person before me successful in this role?”
“Why has the person in this role decided to leave?”
Or you can direct your question toward the interviewer himself:
“What do you like most about working here?”
“If you were to change anything for the better at this company, what would it be?”
“Why did you decide to work for this company in the first place?”
You also want to get a clearer understanding of how they thought the interview went:
“How do you think I and my qualifications match the company’s and hiring manager’s expectations?”
Do your homework
Employers do spend the time to put Job Descriptions together. But that’s not all that they have on their webpage that can give you an idea of who they are and what they do. Their “about” page will help you know how they think, what they value (value/principles), where they’re going (vision), and how they’re going to get there (mission/objectives). Then review their “products/services” section of their website. Is there any aspect in particular that intrigues you? Is there anything that you think might be related to your job?
Ask a few specific questions that will help you have a complete picture:
“How do you measure the effectiveness of that product or services?”
“I noticed one of your values emphasizes the importance of people. How do I pursue this value?”
“How often can someone get involved in corporate social responsibility initiatives?”
Notice most of the questions are open-ended. This approach ensures you get the most out of your of conversation with the interviewers.
How they respond is an important indicator of that organization’s values. Did they provide honest and meaningful answers? Were they specific or generic/quoting from a “textbook”? Etc.
So be genuine, be yourself!