What should I make an effort to do?
Ask questions that show you are thinking about what it would be like to DO the job. They should be curious and open-ended, giving the interviewer the opportunity to expand their thinking and for you to follow up and turn it into a (short) two-way conversation.
“How will success be measured?”
“What does good look like in this role?”
“What are the biggest challenges for the person who gets this job?”
“Who are the key stakeholders, how do they view this post?”
2-3 questions like this are sufficient, and ask follow up questions when they say something interesting. Turning this part of the interview into a conversation about the job is great!
Then ask…“What are the next steps in the process, when should I expect to hear back?”
You need to know this – it saves you worrying about it later – and people who think about next steps are good people to have around in the workplace.
What should I avoid doing?
Don’t ask anything you could have found out by reading their website or watching the news.
Don’t ask closed questions, you won’t learn much and it can kill any rapport you have established (remember the Peak-End-Rule!).
Some people favour asking the interviewer something about themselves, or their experience at the company.
I don’t like this, the interviewer is probably only going to share generic, non-committal information that’s broadly positive. So you won’t learn much. The same goes for really broad questions along the lines of “what’s the culture like?”
Some people favour asking questions that demonstrate your research into the company by asking something about strategy, or initiatives the company has undertaken.
This can work, but it runs the risk of being irrelevant to the role you are applying for and making the interviewer feel like they are being tested.
If you do ask a question like this, make sure it’s relevant to the vacancy.