Building an effective resume and cover letter is challenging all on its own. However putting in the necessary effort will hopefully lead you to the most important stage of the hiring process: The Interview.

Being a great interviewee is a skill that most learn over time and through a great deal of experience, but asking the right questions is something you can learn before you ever have your first interview. Not only does an interview give your prospective employer a chance to learn more about you, but also gives you the chance to learn more about the company.

You will no doubt get through the entire interview process and the hiring manager will then ask you for any questions you may have about the company or the position. It’s important to ask something or it may be assumed you weren’t following along during the interview or you weren’t prepared before walking in the door.

Below is a list of six questions that will help set you apart during your interview process.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current department?

Every hiring manager knows these off the top of their head since they are constantly evaluating their team and their own performance. This question will not only inform you of how the manager views their department but it should also give you the opportunity to provide examples of how your skills can fill the weaknesses currently experienced.

How do you evaluate an employee?

Every company will answer this differently, so it’s important for you to know right from the start what is expected of your performance. However the hiring manager chooses to answer this question should also lead you to an opportunity to highlight your strengths.

What do you expect in the first 60 days from the person who fills this position?

Knowing what’s expected right from the start is a great way to hit the ground running and eliminate any uncertainty. Many people will sit in their desk the first few weeks and not take the initiative to ask what else they can do or what needs to be done. If you are accepted for the position, you’ll now have a very clear understanding of what the hiring manager expects and that should help guide your work flow.

Is there an opportunity for learning and growth?

Most (if not all) hiring managers respect a potential employee who is motivated to continue learning. The idea here is that many companies offer education reimbursement on some level. If you are looking to start an Associate’s degree or finish up a Bachelor’s degree, any help will go a long way. This question may also refer to the opportunity for certifications or industry-related conferences.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

Many of us have been asked, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Now flip it around and you’ll be surprised what types of answers you receive. Additionally, it will show you care about the company’s progress and growth.

Will I have the opportunity to speak to a potential colleague during the hiring process?

It’s important to know as much about the company you are interviewing with, just as they want to know as much about you before selecting you. Most importantly, it could be an opportunity for you to learn a side of the company that is less formal than the interview and just as informative.

In Summary:

It’s always important to do your homework on the company you are interviewing with to show you are prepared and ready to answer any questions. It also shows your interest in the company. Be prepared for a vast array of questions to be thrown your way, but also have a few questions in the back of your mind for the hiring manager. If you show that you are attentive, proactive and ready for the challenge, you will put your interview above your competition.