A reader writes:
I landed an interview for an awesome job last week. I pretty much killed it (not to toot my own horn) and they called me within a few hours to ask me to come back next week and to ask what my salary range was. The phone call was a little awkward…mostly because the hiring manager asked me right off the bat if I “had any more questions or issues for her.” I wasn’t prepared to ask any more questions about the job, seeing as how they’d told me in the interview they wouldn’t be calling their final choices back until the following day. I told her I had no issues at the time, we discussed my salary expectations and she gave me a run down of what the second interview will entail. She ended the call with “if you have anymore questions this week, please feel free to email me.”
Well, now I feel obligated to think up some questions. Do you think it would be a good idea to touch base sometime this week about something? I don’t want to look like I’m not thinking about the position all week.
I sort of hate the expectation that you, as an applicant, will have endless questions for the hiring manager. I do have a lot of questions, it just seemed as though none of them were prudent for the quick phone call we were having (I’d like to save most of them for the second interview). And of course it seems too early to be asking about benefits, vacation time, etc. etc. I have a feeling I’m majorly over thinking this, but I figured I would ask expert advice.
Please don’t come up with questions just for the sake of asking questions, especially if you’re going to email them to her rather than waiting for the second interview.
People say things like “if you have any questions, feel free to email me” because that’s polite. Half of them aren’t even thinking through what they’re saying, and the other half mean that if you truly have a burning question that you really need answered before your next interview, it’s fine to email and ask. But no one — no one — who says this means, “Good candidates will have questions before their interview, so I expect to receive yours soon!” They’re assuming that the vast majority of what you’re wondering can wait for the interview, because it can.
So no, you are not obligated to think up some questions. Moreover, if you do that, it will likely backfire because those types of questions almost always result in a transparently insincere attempt to look thoughtful and interested by asking questions that obviously aren’t crucial ones and that will be annoying because you’d be asking her to spend her time writing out answers to questions that she can tell aren’t genuine.
Yes, you do want to have substantive, thoughtful questions for the interview. But you can save them for that meeting.