By Erin Conroy -- AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — You may think you know what it takes to nail a job interview — how your cover letter should look, what to wear, how to make your greatest weaknesses sound like strengths. But just before the parting handshake, what will you ask your prospective employer?
Crafting the right questions for the interviewer will display confidence and knowledge about the company. While asking the wrong questions can make you appear unqualified or even desperate.
We spoke with staffing professionals and hiring managers who weighed in on what queries will impress interviewers as job competition intensifies. The unemployment rate, now at a 25-year high, is expected to hit 10 percent by the end of the year.
It's important to note that, the worst thing you can do is decline to ask questions, said Stephen Tryon, senior vice president of logistics and talent management at Overstock.com. It could show laziness or, worse, a lack of interest. Still, you want to avoid asking questions that can easily be researched on the company's Web site, or about pay and benefits packages — at least during the initial interview.
"Hiring is like a blind date, and nobody knows how it's going to work out," Tryon said. "But in that encounter, you should offer good value for their time and ask questions that will really determine whether you're a good match — or not."
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It's a good idea to ask very specific questions that demonstrate your knowledge about the company and that you've done your research, said Doug Arms, chief talent officer for Ajilon Professional Staffing. This can be about products, competitors or the company's strategic plan.
You should limit yourself to three questions, Arms said, and make sure they're short and to the point.
Showing an interest in the company's culture and asking about management style will also help you determine whether the job is a good fit, said career coach Jo Singel.