The Best Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview
So you’ve submitted a great CV and a standout cover letter, and you’ve come through to interview stage. Done your research on the charity? Read the job description thoroughly? Practiced your answers for the questions that are likely to come up? Amazing. You’re all set to go. But wait… have you thought about the questions you’d like to ask?
Why should you ask questions at the end of an interview?
Firstly, what you ask tells the recruiter a lot about you as a candidate. If you ask clever, insightful questions they’ll see that you’re genuinely interested in the role and in making a positive contribution to the charity. Secondly, the answers to these questions will give you useful information to figure out whether the role is a good match for you.
What sort of questions should you ask an interviewer?
Think about your motivations for applying for the role and what your deal-breakers are—for example, do you need a manager who gives you lots of autonomy? Are you hoping to develop your career or skills in a particular direction? Is it important to you to work somewhere that champions diversity? Then ask questions that will tell you more about these factors. You can also ask questions that show your enthusiasm for using your skills to help the charity achieve its goals.
How many questions should you ask in an interview?
This really depends how much time you have and how much discussion each one generates. But, as some of your questions may be answered in the course of the interview, it’s worth preparing four or five and then asking the two or three that are most relevant at the time.
The best questions to ask at the end of an interview
Here are some of the best questions to consider.
What are the current challenges that your charity is facing? How can this role help to meet them?
This question shows that you’re looking at the bigger picture and want to see the impact that you could have on the charity’s future. If possible, try to frame it in the context of what you know about their work. For example, if you’ve seen that they’ve been trying to reach donors via new channels post pandemic, ask about what has worked so far. Offer up some suggestions of what you’ve found to be effective in past roles. It’s all about showing an interest and at the same time reaffirming that you’re the right person for the role.
What would you expect the successful candidate to achieve in the first three months?
Asking about short-term plans and targets shows that you’re motivated and driven. It’s also a great way to gauge the day-to-day nature of the role and whether it still appeals to you. Listen carefully to the recruiter’s answer and if you’re still keen, be sure to give your own thoughts on how you might reach given milestones. For example, if you’re interviewing for a web designer role and you’re told that the first three months will involve mapping user journeys, then you could give examples of how you’ve done this in the past.
Is there a chance for career development? What does this look like? What types of training do you offer?
If you want to know whether this job will impact your future career in a positive way, then it’s good to press the recruiter on career development. If there’s a specific area that you’d like to learn more about, ask about both internal and external training opportunities. Unlike the private sector, charities usually don’t have large training budgets, but there will still be scope to further your skills. If you find that the recruiter gives a vague answer, ask about other members of the team. What have their career paths been to date?
How is performance evaluated and how often?
This is a good question to ask at interview, as it shows you care about improving and developing yourself as an employee. It also gives you information about how you’ll be managed and what the charity’s feedback culture is like. For example, will they ask your team and other colleagues for feedback on your performance, or will it just be judged by your line manager?
What’s your management style?
If the recruiter would be your direct line manager, this is a great question to ask, as it will give you a real insight into the most important of your work relationships. A management style that’s incompatible with the way you like to work may cause problems further down the line. If in doubt, ask for examples of how you might work together on a project or campaign and what your manager’s level of input would be.
Could you tell me more about the team that I’d be working in?
After finding out a bit about your potential future manager, it’s time to ask about the rest of the team. How would you interact with each of them on a daily or weekly basis? It’s a great chance to figure out the skillset of the team and to see who you might be able to learn from. Depending on the recruiter’s answer, you might also be given the chance to talk about how you’ve worked in similar teams in the past—just to give them that final example of how you’d be ideal for the role.
What’s the charity’s culture like?
While charities are similar to each other in many respects, they can vary pretty widely when it comes to culture, so it’s good to ask about this. Is it a relaxed, flat management structure that favours autonomy? Or are there fixed structures and processes in place? Is there room for innovation?
Is hybrid or remote working important to you? Are there set working hours? Ask what your prospective employer’s policies are on this.
Figure out if this is the right place for you
The answers to all the above questions will give you a good sense of what the charity is like as an employer. If you’re still interested, be sure to show why you’re the right person for the job. Or, you might find that it doesn’t suit your working style or career expectations. That’s why you should delve deeper into the elements that are important to you.
And if you find it’s not the right role for you, then get back out there and search for jobs.
This post was originally published in 2021 and has been fully updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.