It might surprise you to know that asking questions of your own during your job interview is just as important as answering them. Candidates spend a lot of time on interview preparation, and they should. Doing your research on the company, bringing your 30/60/90-day plan, and preparing compelling answers to interview questions (as well as having some stories to back them up) are guaranteed ways to have a good interview. But one thing that will make you stand out from other candidates is asking questions.
Asking questions tells you what you need to know.
After all, you’re interviewing the company, too. Is it going to be a good fit for you? Is it going to be somewhere you’ll be able to grow and advance your career? To find out these answers, you’ll ask questions about the company, the mission, the typical work day, travel schedules, and so on—just don’t ask about the salary or the vacation!
Asking questions gives you better answers to interview questions.
Do you want to know what the hiring manager wants to hear? Ask him. Say something like, “What are you looking for in a candidate?” or “Tell me about your most successful employee.” Or ask, “What tasks will define success for this job?” You can even ask, “What would sink an employee in this position?” Any of these questions will define for you what the hiring manager is looking for so that you can show him how you will deliver those qualities and skills he needs when you answer his questions.
Asking questions uncovers doubts the hiring manager might have about you.
When you ask questions like “Do you see any reason you wouldn’t move me forward in this process?” or “Is there any reason you wouldn’t hire me?” the manager will tell you what he sees as your weak spots. It might be a real one that you can provide a plan for correcting, or it might just be a misconception on his part because you didn’t give him the answer he was looking for in a previous question. Once you’ve uncovered those issues, you can correct them and possibly save the interview.
Asking questions turns the interview into a conversation.
Conducting a conversation, rather than participating in a ping-pong-style Q&A session, helps to establish rapport. It becomes a give-and-take between professionals. It makes you seem confident, and capable of thinking strategically. And, it makes you seem more enthusiastic and interested in the job.
You can’t go wrong by asking questions. Here's a link to some ideas for killer interview questions.
If you’re not comfortable with this, find an interview coach to role-play the interview with you. It’s worth it if it increases your confidence and gives you a smoother, more successful interview.