Job interviews can be stressful situations for anyone, whether they're a new graduate or industry veteran looking for a change – or somewhere in between. While the interview process allows for an applicant and employer to get to know each other, preparation beforehand is key. Asking the right questions in interviews will help applicants gain a better understanding of the role, the company, and what lies ahead.

The Great Resignation and job opportunities

The global pandemic led to The Great Resignation, which saw 50 million people quit their jobs in 2022, according to CNBC. That's a lot of interviews to be had for open positions! The job market has been shaken up in a short amount of time, and applicants are keener than ever to find the right professional fit for their careers.

To begin their interview preparation, applicants should thoroughly research the company and the role for which they have applied. This will help develop relevant questions and demonstrate both knowledge and interest in the organization.

Creating a list of interview questions

From here, a list of questions can be created based on the research that has been undertaken. Inquiries surrounding company culture, team dynamics, expectations and career growth opportunities show one's enthusiasm for the role, and how they wish to gather valuable information that furthers their long-term career goals.

The above topics take a general approach to asking questions, and applicants will likely find themselves asking similar questions to several companies with whom they interview. Some more in-depth questioning may be required for specific roles, depending on the industry, job description and amount of detail given by the company and/or the interviewer.

Here are a few suggestions to help further the discussion:

Be specific

Ask questions that will yield details about the job's responsibilities, upcoming projects, and tasks that the role requires. This shows a genuine interest in what lies ahead, but also helps evaluate if an applicant is truly suited for the position.

Inquire about opportunities for growth

How feasible is career advancement? The answer may vary, depending whether the company has 10, 100 or 1,000 employees. Discovering potentials for career advancement, professional development opportunities or any additional responsibilities shows an applicant's commitment to long-term growth with an organization.

Ask for clarification

If there is something unclear about the company or the job description, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. It's better to gain a thorough understanding of the role and its expectations, rather than assuming and then agreeing to terms of employment that aren't fully understood.

Discover more about company benefits and perks

While it can be easy to get excited about vision and dental benefits, and the office perks that come with the job, one should not let this overshadow the interview. It is best to inquire about these details after the role and company have been discussed – that is, after the genuine interest in working for the organization has been made.

Using the tips above can demonstrate one's knowledge and understanding of a company and its position within the industry at large. Coming prepared with questions shows an applicant's proactive approach, and can help them stand out as a well-prepared candidate. Also, consider conducting your own post-mortems for any interviews as a way to learn from your strengths and weaknesses.

Keep discussions flowing

It's important to ask questions, but it's equally as paramount to let the discussion flow. An engaged and active listener will listen to what the interviewer has to say, and follow up accordingly, based on the answers they give. This allows for a more meaningful conversation, and will help the applicant decide if the company is right for them, should they be offered the job.

After all, a job interview will ultimately go one of two ways. While the interviewer is assessing the applicant's fit within their organization, the applicant should be using the interview process to evaluate if the company and role aligns with their career goals and aspirations. It may become clear that the role or company is not the right fit, and that's okay! Asking the right questions will help make an informed decision.