By: Bill Reagan

Some people think the way to stand out in a job interview is to get all the answers right. To do this, they plan a response for every common interview question, make mental lists of key points to mention, and prepare to discuss the smallest details of their past jobs. This is a solid approach for any interview, but don’t forget to plan for when the hiring manager asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”

If you’ve focused all of your energy on having your answers ready, you might miss this opportunity to make a strong impression. Here’s why asking smart questions during a job interview matters:

  • It shows you’ve done your homework. Whether it’s asking about their mission, recent company news, or trends in their industry, this is a chance to demonstrate that you are serious about the opportunity and you made an extra effort to prepare for the interview.
  • You can learn more about the company you’re applying to. While an interview is often seen as their chance to see if you’re the right fit for their team, it’s also your chance to see if the job is the right fit for you. How does the company measure success for the position you’re applying for? What challenges should you expect if you’re selected for the job? Ask the interviewer what they like about working at the company. You may learn something that makes your choice easier.
  • It allows you to build rapport with the interviewer. Hiring Managers tend to remember people more than resumes. Asking questions shifts the dynamic, and can make it feel more like a conversation between two people rather than a performance-based test between interviewer and interviewee.

What are the best questions to ask? It depends on the job, the company, and what you’ve already discussed in the interview (as you don’t want to ask about something they previously covered). It’s best to avoid “what’s in it for me” questions (such as expected salary, or when you’ll be eligible for vacation time) and instead, ask questions that show you understand the job requirements and you’re genuinely interested in the position and the company.