Interest vs Ignorance
Some people tend to mistake asking questions as a sign of ignorance. Fortunately for job seekers, this is far from true. In an interview environment, it's perfectly safe to ask a question and not come across as ignorant. Why? Because it shows, instead, a strong interest in the organization/company and how it works. Make it a point to be interested in the job you're after! After you've done your research, it's a good idea to come up with some questions to sort of tie up any loose ends that may remain.
Here are some suggestions for questions to get you started. For the sake of time, you may do well to narrow the number of questions you ask down to a few.
- Can you describe a typical day on the job?
- What qualities do you look for in a candidate?
- What is the management style of this organization?
- Is there a formal training program for this position? If not, how will I be trained?
- What is your market share in this industry?
- How does the company position itself in the industry--what makes your products or services unique?
- What opportunities are there for advancement?
- What opportunities are there for advanced training or education?
- Do you have any doubts about my qualifications for this job that I may address?
Generally speaking, questions about salary, benefits, vacation time, etc. should not be asked by you in an initial interview, although you should be prepared if they question you regarding salary. Give the interviewer every chance to offer this information without being asked. And by all means, if you insist on asking such questions, make sure they are not your only ones -- otherwise, it conveys an attitude of 'what's in it for me,' a real negative from an employer's point of view.
Your research into the organization can help you to think of questions of your own. For instance, there may be new projects or product lines described in a company's promotional literature that intrigue you. Or, you may ask how industry trends (identified through your research!) may effect the company. Don't miss an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the organization!