By Laura Morsch
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(CareerBuilder.com) -- An interview is meant to be a two-way street. The hiring manager is interviewing you to determine whether you're the best fit for the job. At the same time, you should be asking questions to determine whether you would be happy in the position or with the company.
But once nerves take over, it's easy to forget your role. After all, you're meeting on the employer's schedule in an unfamiliar office. After listening to the interviewer's monologue about the company and role, you're asked a barrage of questions about your background and future plans " all the while praying that you're delivering the "right" answers.
By the time the employer asks if you have any questions, it's easy to be so drained and nervous you can only stammer out, "Nope."
Not asking questions, however, is passing up a chance to stand out from the competition.
"This is a great opportunity to set you apart in a positive way from other people being considered for the job," says Eddie Payne, division manager of professional staffing for recruiting firm FGP International. "Employers say they are interested in candidates who ask quality questions and make intelligent conversation based on what they know about the organization."
Before the interview, prepare a list of questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the company and interest in the position. Some good topics to cover include:
The company Dave Stanford, executive vice president of client services for contingency and contract staffing firm Winter, Wyman Companies suggests asking:
The position's history Asking about why the position is vacant can provide insight into the company and the potential for advancement. According to Annie Stevens and Greg Gostanian, managing partners at executive and career development firm ClearRock, good questions include:
The department Asking about your department's workers and role in the company can help you understand more about the company's culture and hierarchy. Stanford suggests asking:
The job's responsibilities To avoid any confusion later on, it pays to gain a solid understanding of the position. FGP International's Eddie Payne recommends inquiring:
The expectations To determine how and when you will evaluated, Payne recommend advises asking:
The next steps At the end of the interview, don't forget to ask: What are the next steps in the interview process?
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