THE goal of an interview is not to be a one-way monologue by the interviewer or an interrogation in which you simply answer questions non-stop.

Rather, the goal is to have a relaxed, two-way conversation between you and the interviewer.

Being prepared with a list of focused questions shows that you have an interest in working for this organisation and will give you an edge in the interview process.

By ending your answer to a question with a question of your own, you indicate that you have been listening and want to know more about the organisation.

You will get some information you need, avoid embarrassing silences and give yourself extra breathing time before the next question.

Eight things to ask

Ask these essential questions when interviewing for a new position to get a better feel for future realities:

How would you describe your management style?

Based on the answer, ask yourself: “Can I see myself working for this manager?”

If the person seems to be a micro-manager, and you prefer to be managed in terms of the big picture, you know that your styles do not match.

What are the most important traits you look for in a subordinate?

Asking this question gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the qualities the hiring manager is looking for.

How do you like your people to communicate with you?

Does the manager only send e-mail and discourage you from walking into his office?

If you prefer to have regular face-to-face communication with your manager, then you must find one who has the same communication expectations.

What are the most important items for improvement in my area?

Based on the hiring manager’s answer, you can demonstrate your knowledge and experience by offering suggestions on how you would make those improvements happen.

What are the most critical factors for success in your area of the business?

The hiring manager’s answer here will give you a gauge of how your position is viewed within the organisation.

Notice if he mentions people. You will then be able to find out if you will play a significant role in the organisation’s future.

Where do you see the company (or function) going in the next few years?

Once again, are the organisation’s goals aligned with your own development goals? If the organisation seems to be stagnant and is not open to change, and you don’t see much room for personal or professional development, ask yourself if that is the type of organisation with which you want to be associated.

If you and I were developing some sort of philosophical difference, how would you go about resolving it?

The answer will give you an insight into the manager’s communication style and ability to resolve conflict. If they are not the same as yours, it is important to know that before a conflict arises.

What is the timeframe within which you expect new employees to get up to speed and become productive?

This answer should give you an understanding of the company’s on-boarding process and the support provided to new employees. Question the timeframe — is it realistic and one you feel you can meet?

There is a common saying that “you get out what you put in”. The success of your job search will depend on the quality of your preparation.

The guidelines highlighted in this series of four articles offer a formula for making a great first impression that could land you the job you truly want.