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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

The Best Way to Ask Your Burning Questions in an Interview

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When it reaches the point in an interview where the tables turn and it’s your time to ask questions, it’s easy to feel concerned about asking the wrong thing. You want to learn more about the company and what it’s like to work there—questions like “What is the work-life balance like here?” or “How is the company hoping to grow in the next year?”—but the last thing you want to do is come off as if you didn’t do you research or know nothing about the place you’re interviewing with!

The good news is, short of asking “What does this company do, again?” almost any question you have about your potential new employer won’t sound ignorant if you put it the right way. In fact, there’s a sneaky way to get around your concerns: Frame your question as if you’re asking for the opinion or experience of the interviewer.

For example, instead of asking “What’s the company culture here?” try “What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about office life?”

Instead of “How is the company hoping to grow in the next year?” try “What are you most excited about for the company in the next year?”

This works for a couple reasons. First of all, while you might be able to do research online to learn about the company culture or growth goals, there’s no way you could know the interviewer’s opinion on those things. Second, there’s a good chance you’ll get more unique information this way, rather than just company marketing jargon. Finally, people love talking about themselves, so you’ll likely get more brownie points with your interviewer if you seem genuinely interested in him or her.

Of course, it should be noted that you should still avoid the self-serving no-no questions. (Changing, “What are the compensation plans like?” to “What is your salary?” will really not help you out.) But for any question that you’re worried will make you sound like you didn’t read up on the company enough? This is a great—and easy—way to beat around the bush.