Preparation is vital to a successful interview. Learning as much as you can about the company who are recruiting as well as the person you’ll be meeting are just the basics. Any candidate should have a thorough understanding of the job specification and description at hand and be prepared with at least three questions to ask at the end of the interview. This shows the employer that you are genuinely interested in making this your next career move.

Unless you prepare some questions in advance, chances are that your mind will go blank and you’ll run the risk of missing a key piece of information that could impact on whether or not you should accept a job offer if one is made.

Here’s our suggestions for the Top 5 Questions you should be considering:

How did the vacancy arise?

The circumstances of how the opening became available is vitally important, not only to your understanding of the company but the person you could be working for. If the role has become a revolving door you need to ask why?

Equally if someone is leaving the business, try to find out the reason and how long they were in the business for. The overall attrition rate of the company will give you an indication of employee satisfaction.

If the job is new find out why the role was created and where it fits in to the long term plans of the business. You want to make sure the job will still exist in 12 months’ time.

What's the 5 year road-map?

What are the company’s medium to long term plans? The length and quality of the answer will give you an idea of the clarity of the plan, its robustness and how well it's understood by the person sat opposite you. It's important to ask as it could well be your road-map in a few weeks time.

You also need to understand where you will fit in to that plan. The obvious follow up to this is how they plan to develop you to meet the challenges and opportunities you’ll be encountering.

How is performance measured?

A clear idea of how your performance will be measured should be a key part of your decision making process. A good salary and monthly bonuses are enough to turn anyone’s head but if the targets are all but near impossible to hit then it’s meaningless.

You have to be happy with their expectations, their workload and their work ethic. Get examples of the KPIs, the measures they’re score against and how frequently these and your performance are reviewed.

Confirm,­ in writing if possible,­ that there is a structured induction period and training. This is not only reassuring from a personal stand point but demonstrates the company’s commitment to developing and supporting their staff.

What is office life like?

It’s not only beneficial to find out how many people you will be directly (and indirectly) working with during the average day but try to get a grasp of what the working environment is like as well. The dynamic in the office needs to work for you. Are you a corporate type or a creative? How does that marry up with the interviewer’s description of the office? Are there social events? Do people go to lunch together or does everyone eat at their desks?

Essentially this is a good opportunity for you and your interviewer to assess whether or not you’ll be a good fit. All the experience and skills in the world won’t help you if you clash with your colleagues.

How well did I do?

Don’t be afraid to ask how well the interview has gone. This will give you a good indicator of whether you are a potential candidate or if it didn’t go too well you’ll have a heads up so neither yours or the employer’s time is wasted any further. One thing we always suggest is thanking the hiring manager for their time in seeing you regardless of how well you did, manners count for nothing and this might persuade them to rethink!