Searching for your dream job (or your first job) is a big step in your life. You want to make sure that you find the best company that fits not only your own personal goals, but also offers a chance for growth and self-actualization. You want a company that challenges you and forces you to break through to new levels so that you are always growing. But remember, when you go in for a job interview, it is not only the interviewer who should be asking questions. As the interviewee, you should have an idea of what questions to ask at interview time, so that you will get to the heart of the interview without wasting time or messing up.

Struggling with what question to ask at a job interview?

Below are 6 questions to ask that should help you connect to the interviewer and also give you valuable information you need when making a decision on the job with each company:

1) What skills or experience do you perceive as ideal for this job?

One great interview question to ask is what skills or experience does the employer envision for the job. This is at the heart of why the person is hiring to begin with. In other words, this question asks what specific skills are they looking for that you may possess that will make you a good fit for the job? Once you have asked this question, listen carefully to the answer. One mistake some job candidates make is that they ask too much or follow up with too many other questions, or think about the next question they are going to ask. Instead, just sit back and let the interviewer talk. If the actual CEO or employer is doing the interview, this will give you a great deal of insight as to what they expect. If it is an HR person, they represent the company so it will still tell you what they consider as positive qualities for the job for which you are applying.

2) What are the primary challenges facing your company today?

Of all of the questions about what to ask at an interview, this one seems to be the toughest for interviewees to ask, but it is perhaps the most important to ask. Some have the opinion that you should be nothing but positive at an interview. Putting on superficial smiles, the interviewer is supposed to smile and ask a question of the interviewee, and in return, the interviewee is supposed to smile and nod and answer politely. But if you are both going to get to the heart of whether or not this is a good match, you need to get down to the brass tax of it all. Do this by asking what the challenges are for the company. It won’t offend them, if you ask it honestly and courteously. Then see what they say. They should be honest and tell you what their company lacks, then you can be honest and reply with how you think you can be an asset to them and help with their challenges when they are done explaining.

3) How do you solve company issues or problems that arise?

Knowing the answer to this interview question to ask is important for your own security. It tells you how the company in question handles complaints, problems, and difficulties as they arise. This gives you a heads up in knowing how the company handles PR and employee grievances, issues with customers, and more. It is an important thing to know.

4) Do you pay based on a pay-per-performance model?

Another thing to remember when thinking of what questions to ask at interview, is whether the company pays more for better performance. Not everyone wants to be paid this way, but knowing they do this will help you to understand their underlying philosophy of how much they value better performance for better pay. It may also tell you if they tend to give advancements for those employees who do exceptionally well.

5) What is the day-to-day routine like here

If you ask nothing else, be practical and don’t forget this question to ask at a job interview. It is a practical question and involves asking what it is actually like in the daily operations of the company. It’s great if a company has a 401K plan, early lunch hours, and fair wages. But knowing what the job itself would be like is perhaps the most important question to ask before you find out for yourself in real time. This prepares you mentally for the tasks at hand, gives you insight on whether or not the job is a good fit for you, and tells the interviewer that you are serious about working and want to know what it involves.

6) Do you value the opinions of your staff?

If you still don’t know what to ask at an interview, ask how they value staff opinions. Even the most tyrannical of bosses asked for the opinions of his experts from time to time. Knowing that you will have a say in the goings on of the company and that you may have a chance to influence the company’s future is a strong incentive for many. And the interviewer will be glad that you care enough about the company to want to give input into its future decisions.

In short, don’t be afraid to ask questions at a job interview. It gives you insight into how the company operates, gives you an idea of what it would be like to work at the company on a daily basis, and tells the interviewer you want to dig deeper into the inner workings of the company to see if the practical aspect of the business is for you. Likewise, as you answer and ask questions in the interview process, the interviewer will also come to conclusions about whether you are a good fit for the company as well. So, when consider which interview question to ask, as long as you ask with respect for the company and the employer, you should consider any question fair game.