The best way to avoid taking a job you will hate (resulting in another job hunt too soon) is to learn as much as you can about the job, the employer, your boss, your coworkers, and the environment before you accept the job offer. Job interviews should be as great a source of information for you, as they are for employers.
If the interviewer knows what they are doing, you will be asked if you have any questions. Even if they don't ask, be prepared, and ask your questions, anyway. When you have your own questions ready, you can often divert the interviewer's attention in uncomfortable situations (like after you have answered why you were fired).
Asking good questions shows that you are both interested and prepared, which will impress the interviewer, and the answers to those questions should also help you decide whether or not you want to work for the employer.
Employers often have several candidates for every job, so they aren't interested in a candidate who isn't really interested in them or the opportunity. Typically, a job seeker with no questions is assumed to be either not interested in the job or not very bright. Read 45 Questions You Should NOT Ask in a Job Interview for questions to avoid asking.
The job interview process may be simple. You come in for one set of interviews and are hired (or not). More often, there are several "rounds" of interviews, and making it past the first round is usually considered a good sign.
Most of these questions are appropriate for every round of interviewing when you are interviewed by new people (to you) in each round.
If you see the same people again in a 2nd or 3rd round, as part of the interview process for the same job, don't repeat a question unless you want to follow up on something another interviewer said. Hopefully, by that point in the interview process, you will have learned enough about the person and the job to have developed new questions to ask
Try not to ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. You want more information, and people will usually provide that if you ask "open-ended" questions, like the questions below.
The timing of your questions can be very important. Presumably you know the job title and job description, so ask other relevant questions about the employer and the job.
First, don't feel that you must ask all, or even half, of these questions or that these are the only questions to ask. Use this list as a starting point. Pick out the questions that are the most important to you, and add more based on your experience and interests.
Second, ask follow-on questions, based on the answers you receive. Turn the interview into a discussion.
Don't just mechanically go through this list of questions -- that will be interpreted as lack of interest and/or lack of intelligence. Neither interpretation will be good for your candidacy.
At the start of the interview, understanding the people who are interviewing you will help you provide answers appropriate to the person's role in your worklife. You will also become a bit more comfortable talking with the interviewer(s), hopefully turning the interview into a discussion rather than a series of questions and answers.
You should be introduced to each person interviewing you before an interview begins. Make note of the person's name, and ask for their job title if it isn't provided. Ideally, you should receive a business card from the interviewer that contains all relevant information, including their contact information.
Particularly if the person will be a co-worker or your manager, understanding what motivates their questions and interest in you will give you more insight into both them and the job. You will also be able to ask the most relevant questions.
Understanding more about the person will help you choose the next questions to ask, and also help you keep their responses in perspective.
These questions are most relevant when you are meeting an interviewer for the first time. If you are returning for a second or third round of interviews with the same person, you should already know the answers to these questions, so repeating them is not necessary or smart.
Once you understand who is interviewing you, you can move on to asking these questions as appropriate during the interview.
Ask questions that will help you determine if you would actually like the job, and be able to do it well.
Understanding more about the job will help you decide if the job feels like a good fit for you.
Do not ask a question that could be answered by a quick visit to the employer's website and a quick Google search.
Ask about anything else in your preparation that raised questions for you. [Read Smart Google Research for Successful Job Interviews for leveraging Google before the interview.]
As the interview winds down, or when the interviewer has indicated that the interview is ending, you need to ask these end-of-the-interview questions.
If you are feeling bold, you can ask how you did, if the interviewer has any concerns about your ability to do the job, and/or if you are the leading candidate for the job. Some interviewers will like this approach and the confidence you are demonstrating, but others will not. Do what feels comfortable and appropriate to you.
You want to be sure that you understand what happens next, and how their hiring process works.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.