I am finding that I am starting to enjoy a certain part of interviewing and that's the point when I get to ask the questions. I have stock questions that give me insight into the company, the culture, the processes and the people. 4 to 5 questions is all it takes. I am also to take that insight and use it to drive my Q/A time at some follow-up interviews, which I did for the first time yesterday. I'm kind of wishing that I had discovered this technique some time ago. I also saw how well people who already worked together got to know each other better when I ask these questions to a group. I highly suggest taking the time to make your own stock list of lines of questioning. As an example here's mine, especially when I'm stumped for more specific questions:
1. What's your favorite part about working at XYZ, inc?
2. If you could change one thing, what would it be?
3 (For the technical interview). What new technologies have you introduced? What is the process of introduction? And did the technologies meet your expectations?
4. (For the managerial interview). If I were to be/progress into management, are there good mentors available? Do you have a good mentoring process?
5. (For the follow-up) This is a good time to drill down on things raised in previous interviews as the interviewer's job title dictates.
6. What recent challenges are you facing today and going forward?
7. Tell me about your first assignment/how you came to work for XYZ, inc?
Two questions I hate to hear are:
1. Where do you see yourself 1, 3, 5 years from now?
I hate this question because I'm a dynamic individual, and the answer, whether or not you honestly truly feel it, can jeopardize the interview. Do you have too much ambition or not enough? Ambition is ambition, sometimes requires encouragement, and sometimes requires tempering. The point is no one knows where they're going to be, and it makes them less agile. Maybe I should answer with a question of my own from now on: "I'm not sure. Are there specific opportunities that I should be considering at those intervals?"
2. What do you see as your greatest weakness?
This is a horrible question. Nobody is going to be completely forthcoming when they answer this question, because they risk getting the job. Instead, the candidate has to pick something that they are working on already that isn't their greatest weakness; or they have to pick a strength and show the negative side, thereby implying the actual strength. The last time I was asked this question, I was talking about my strength and accidentally started talking about how it became a weakness as a manager; to which I found I triggered commiseration from my interviewer.
Getting to know the people, culture, and processes before you start working someplace is vital. And even if you don't get the job, you can digest all that experience into secondary wisdom that you can take with you when you finally do land a job. This is really pertinent if you plan to lead or manage at any level.