What are some great questions to ask at the end of an interview? We asked experts to give us their insights.
Maureen McCann, BA, CCDP, MCRS, MCIS, MCCS, MCES
Executive Career Strategist | Promotion Career Solutions
Ask whether there’s anything you can explain further or clarify to give the employer a better sense of why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Is there anything about the previous answers I can clarify or strengthen for you?
This demonstrates that you’re thinking from the employer perspective and willing to work hard for their satisfaction. It also demonstrates you’ll go further than the average candidate to serve their needs. Asking this question may give you greater insight into the motivators of the employer to hire the right candidate.
I coached a client to go into the interview knowing her top five offerings. In the interview, she felt she covered all five very well. At the end of the interview, she asked if she could clarify anything for the interviewers. Turns out she had only nailed three of the five offerings.
The employer was unclear about the other two. She focused on the two items and was able to give them more than enough information to answer their question. She was offered the job shortly thereafter.
Related: How to Respond to a Job Offer
How will you know, after my first 90 days, that I’ve been successful in this role?
The way the question is phrased has the employer visualizing you in the role. But more importantly, it demonstrates to the employer that you’re keen to get started and already thinking ahead about how to achieve the goals/mission of the organization.
Even more beneficial for you: When you’reselected as the candidate, you have a clear directive to work towards in your first 90 days.
Career Consultant | Host, Career Relaunch podcast
During interviews, I recommend candidates ask questions that:
- Create positive sentiment with the hiring manager.
- Demonstrate you’ve done your research on the role & company.
- Provide you with meaningful information only available from someone who’s worked within the organization (not publicly available).
What are the characteristics of people who excel here?
This conveys to the hiring manager that you care about understanding what skills or behaviors are required in order to succeed in this role. It also provides you a sense of whether you would fit well into the organization.
What’s one of the most common misconceptions people have about working here?
This question is a thoughtful one that demonstrates you really want to understand what life is like in this organization, going beyond the hype and common topics that show up in the popular press. It also gives you an opportunity to get a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse into what it’s really like to work at the company.
What’s something that’s surprised you about working here?
This is information you would only be able to obtain by speaking to someone who’s had significant experience working at the company and allows you to get a sense of some of the less “obvious” aspects of working at the company. It allows you to also sense check some of your own perceptions about the company.
What’s one of the biggest challenges someone tends to face in this type of role?
Every role comes with frustrations and challenges that may not be obvious from the job description. This conveys to the hiring manager that you want to go into this role being aware of these key challenges. It also allows you to assess whether this is a challenge you would embrace or dread on a day-to-day basis.
What do you wish more incoming hires would understand about working here when they start?
Every company has its own unique way of working, so asking these questions conveys your thirst for wanting to understand what it takes to do well in the organization. It also provides you with helpful insight that will allow you to work effectively in your role if you ultimately join the company.
What are the most common mistakes people make when they first start out in this type of role?
This demonstrates humility and an understanding that being new at any organization involves a learning curve. It also demonstrates your maturity and respect for how things are done at the company, not necessarily imposing your way of working from the outset. It also gives you a leg up to understand what behaviors are and are not effective in the role.
What do you appreciate the most about the culture here? What frustrates you?
This demonstrates your desire to understand the impact of this organization’s culture on people. Hiring managers generally appreciate when candidates invest time in learning more about the effective ways of working at their organizations. Hearing their perspectives also allows you to understand whether that culture is a good fit for you.
Director of Human Systems, Off Road
When Off Road works with companies that are hiring, we help them gain a clear understanding of the attributes of candidates that would potentially fit into their company culture. The types of questions that qualified candidates ask are as relevant as their answers when interviewed. Some questions that we look for candidates to ask are:
How does this position contribute to the growth of the company?
This will give candidates an insight into whether or not the job has a growth path that is interesting to them.
What does success in this position look like and how is it measured and how often?
This lets candidates learn how the company views success, what feedback may look like and the way in which they will be evaluated.
What is the most exciting aspect of the company for you right now?
Knowing if the current staff is excited about the company and the work that they do is a great insight for the candidate into the culture of the company.
In your perspective, What are the most challenging aspects of this position?
Having an idea of the potential challenges in a position before starting with a company can help make a smoother transition and help the candidate decide if they are up for tackling those challenges.
What are the biggest challenges for the company right now?
This will give a candidate insight into larger issues that the company might be facing.
What has been the most recent big success for the company?
Candidates will get some idea as to how the company views success and if that aligns with them.
Having insight into the company’s value system and the common characteristics of the current staff will give candidates the opportunity to evaluate whether or not they feel aligned with the culture.
Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources (Retired)
For recent graduates and other folks seeking entry-level positions, asking these three inter-related questions could provide very useful information to employment candidates toward the end of their interview sessions.
“At this point in my career, I want to further develop my job-related skills and contribute to assignments that will challenge me professionally. Keeping that in mind…”
What is your organizational philosophy on providing support for training and development efforts?
How do employees qualify for the developmental opportunities that you provide?
What sort of support does your organization provide when employees seek additional training and development?
Melissa McClung, MS, LPC
Professional Career Advisor | Speaker | Owner, LBD Careers, LLC
When should I expect to hear back from you?
I advise clients to always ask this question in the interview and to follow up the day after the interview with a thank you email. Once you have done these things, following up becomes easy!
Two days after the time frame they indicated you would hear back has passed, you simply send an email or give a call and ask them if they have made a decision about the role. If they give you a new timeframe, continue to follow up in the same way until you don’t get a response or you are told no.
HR Manager, New Age Polish
Some of the best questions to ask an interviewer are:
Who will I be working with and reporting to?
This shows the interviewer that you’re keen to know how many people you’re working with and the roles of each person. You’re displaying interest in finding out the team dynamics as well as how your role fits into the team.
What’s the career progression like?
Asking this proves that you’re someone who thinks ahead and will work hard to achieve what you set out to. This indicates to interviewers that you’re a planner who’s ambitious and always looking to improve.
How long is the waiting period going to be?
Are there any other documents I need to submit to substantiate my application?
A candidate who asks these questions is someone who takes initiative and is eager to get things going. This is a promising trait that is valuable in all organizations.
Lauren Healey, MBA
Human Resources Director, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of New England
Craft a question that references something you have found prior to the interview
The end of the interview is your chance to leave a great final impression. The moment the interviewer asks you if you have any questions is your opportunity to show you have done your research about the company. An example of this would be to ask how one of the published company values is demonstrated in the company culture.
What do you like about working here?
Not only does this personalize the conversation with your interviewer, it often gives you some insight into the company culture that you would not otherwise discover. Use the interview to show what makes you unique from other candidates, show your skills and abilities and also to determine if the job and company would be a good fit for you.
HR Director, Find Courses
Are there many performance reviews? How often do they occur?
An innovative, great way to impress your employer would be to ask about performance reviews. Performance reviews give you the chance to understand how your job performance has benefitted the company, and what you can improve on.
Ask whether there are many performance reviews and how often they occur. Not only does it define you as a hard worker but it displays your interest to grow personally within the company. Asking this shows that you are eager to learn and willing to receive constructive criticism which is a great sign to any employer.
Ciara Van De Velde
Client Engagement Manager, Employment BOOST
What are the current goals of the company and how does this team works to achieve those goals?
Take the initiative and show that you are ready for the next steps. Asking this question gives the impression that you are ready to jump on board as a team player.
Another question to ask is for any contact information your interviewer is willing to provide that helps you keep in contact. For instance:
“I enjoyed speaking with you today and learning more about the company and position. I would love to send you a thank you letter, could I please have a business card?”
This also assures that you have the appropriate contact information to follow up regarding the status of your interview. Other good questions to ask are:
How would you describe the organizational culture?
What are the biggest challenges someone in this role might face?
What would my primary goals be within the first 30, 60, and 90 days of employment?
Director of Human Resources, Rubicon Programs
Here are three of my favorite questions:
What are the top three skills needed for someone to be successful in this position?
When you send a thank you email or card, you can refer back to the skills the interviewer listed and describe when you’ve displayed those skills.
Do you have any thoughts about my skills or qualifications that make you think I may not be a good fit?
If you have the skills, you can say, “I can see why you would be concerned — I’m sorry I didn’t accurately reflect…” and if you don’t have the skills, you can say, “I can see why you would be concerned. Let me assure you that I am a very quick learner and…(give an example of how you learned something similar)”
What is your favorite thing about working here?
CEO, My Corporation
Why are you hiring for this position?
This question opens the door to ask even more questions related to the same topic. It’s a simple question, but it gives the applicant greater insight into the company and their needs.
They may, for example, be in the process of establishing the department you’re going to be working in from the ground up and you may be the first hire to lead that team forward. Alternatively, they may be hiring for additional support in other departments.
Are there opportunities for growth within the company?
This provides greater insight into the hiring process. Sure, an employer may be hiring for one specific role right now but that role could potentially lead to advancement within the department or outside of it if potential employees are interested in working in other fields and contributing to the company that way.
Marketing Manager, DSM Industrial Engineering, Ltd
After being bombarded with questions in an interview you should be offered the opportunity to ask a few yourself. Do not miss this opportunity or simply say ‘no’, this question in itself is a bit of a test.
They’re wanting to know if you’ve done research, if you have any industry questions and how you deal with the opportunity to lead the conversation. So here are a few questions that might impress them.
What’s your day-to-day like?
If the person interviewing you is in a similar position to the one that you’re interviewing for, make sure you ask what their daily routine looks like. In doing this, you can get a feel for the kind of work you’ll be doing. It’ll help to outline the typical responsibilities you’ll be given and how the company operates in a general sense. After hearing this you should be able to figure out whether or not you’ll fit into the culture and enjoy the work you’ll be doing.
What makes you stay here?
If your interviewer isn’t the business owner or a shareholder, asking them why they stay is a great way to figure out any good qualities of the workplace. In asking another employee why they’ve stayed at the company for so long you’re able to judge the culture and find out whether or not the company cares about their employees or whether they just see them as a workforce.
Where would you like/where do you think the company is going in the near future?
Differentiating between the two variations of these questions will offer an insight into how the interviewer and the ‘company’ thinks. You might also be able to deduce whether or not the people running the company takes into consideration their employees thoughts and input.
What was your biggest challenge when you started here?
Knowing the biggest challenges that others have faced when starting at the company is a great way to prepare yourself for what’s to come if you take the job. Knowing what you’ll encounter in the first few weeks will help to ease you in and could mean that you get further.
What is training support like?
Know whether or not the company will help you develop is something that can sway your decision very easily. If they won’t support you with training and upskilling then it’s likely that they don’t have a lot of thought for their members of staff. Most people are looking to build a career and with that comes a level of development and learning as time goes on, whether it’s having a mentor or sending you on courses.
What’s the employee turn over rate?
Knowing what their employee turn over is like will offer a quick insight into how they treat their employees. High employee turnover could mean that people are mistreated or that they don’t really offer any room for growth within the company.
Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
It is critical to ask questions to show you are interested and have done your homework. You want to leave them with the impression that you are a hard worker with a lot of energy and a strong work ethic.
Here are some questions I always thought were smart ones to ask:
What do you like most about working here?
What do you hope the person in this job will accomplish in the coming year?
What is the culture like here and what types of people are most successful? What types are not a good fit and why?
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing this organization?
Never ask about vacation policies, benefits, etc. that can be a red flag and work against you. The focus should be on them and their needs not yours at this stage. I guess I am surprised when candidates ask about vacations, etc. before they are offered the job it seems presumptuous and signals potential issues in terms of fit.
Owner, My Interview Buddy
The end of an interview is a great opportunity to learn more about the organization, the role, and the hiring managers, here are a few questions I suggest my clients ask:
What would be my first priorities be once starting this position, if I was chosen?
This question gets them already visualizing the candidate in the position and shows that the candidate is already thinking of what to do when they hit the ground running.
What were some of the things that the predecessor in this role did well?
If there was someone who started before the candidate, this question gives insight into where the bar has been left. If the hiring manager doesn’t have a lot of positive things to say, that gives the candidate a chance to think of how they could improve upon the role. If the bar is high, it lets the candidate know what the expectations are.
Internally, what would you say XYZ Company’s values are?
Hearing from the interviewer’s perspective what they feel the company values is paramount in seeing if a company is a good fit for a candidate. Do they value diversity and inclusion? Work-life balance? Work hard/play hard mentality?
Founder & CEO, GetVOIP
There are several ways to leave a positive impression, and they go beyond asking “What would be my salary?” and “When is the starting date?”
To make sure the recruiter interviewing you remembers you for all of the right reasons, try some of these:
- Can you tell me about an upcoming project in the pipeline for this role, so I can begin researching and preparing any needed assets?
- Who would be the best person in the office to shadow so I may begin wrapping my head around the full scope of this position?
- Is there a sample project prepared for me to demonstrate I’m a good fit? I’m ready when you are!
- Where’s the next team vacation to? Just kidding – but, what is the team culture like? Are there casual Fridays, team Happy Hours, or other meetups?
Show that you’re excited about the job and to be a member of the team, and your interviewer will definitely make a positive note on your file.
You can presumably work anywhere you want. What keeps you at this company?
This will help you understand the best part of working at this company. It may be the culture, the people, the work, the mission statement, or any other quality. It also is a flattering question to ask because you assume the interviewer is a marketable candidate!
What do you think is the most important thing for someone in this role to do within their first 30 days on the job?
This question shows you are ready to hit the ground running and you’re already thinking about how to start taking initiative in the job.
Vice President of Enterprise Accounts, SocialSEO
How a candidate handles the end of the interview often times tells us just as much about them as all other parts of the interview. This also your opportunity as the candidate to get clarity anything from the interview, and get a clear timeline on the next steps.
If not already covered in the course of the interview, this is a great time to ask about how the organization will define winning for the new team member. The following are the best questions I’ve gotten from a candidate who ended up being hired:
How would you define winning for this role in the first 30, 60, 90, and 180 days?
What metrics, milestones, and accomplishments would you see as knocking it out of the park if accomplished?
What would you like to see from me for next steps?
Ask what the organization’s ideal timeline is for filling the role and if there are any upcoming milestones or initiatives that the onboarding is being structured around. Take the opportunity to ask for clear expectations from your end as well.
Managing Attorney, Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC
What makes working here worthwhile for you?
You can tell a lot from the interviewer’s reaction, as well as their answer. The more in-depth the interview process, the more direct you can be.
I know how high your expectations are. What about this job justified that sacrifice for you?
If you were in my position, why would you take this job?
The trick is to use the principle of reciprocity in communications to build credit with the interviewers by providing very open, forthright answers and then asking a question that requires a similarly honest answer from them, framed in your perspective.
Most interviewers will give up a valuable answer, in fact, if they are evasive, you probably know you should seek other opportunities.
Operations Manager, My Trading Skills
Asking questions at the end of an interview is an excellent way of creating rapport with the interviewer. It shows you are interested in finding out more about the company as well as employment.
Some of the questions you can ask include:
- What are your specific expectations of me if you hire me for this job?
- If hired, will I receive any training prior to starting the work?
- If there is training, how is it done?
- How are performance reviews conducted in this company?
- Can you walk me through a typical day for an employee at this company?
- What direction do you see the company taking in the next 5-10 years?
- Are there strong opportunities for career advancement in the department I’ll be working in if hired?
- If hired, will I be working with a team, and if yes, can you tell me something about each?
- What should I know about my supervisors that will make my transition easier for me and the rest of the team?
Etiquette Consultant | Founder, Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting
There are many great questions to ask at interviews, but the ones I find most valuable are ones that provide insight.
What happened to the person who used to have this job?
Listen carefully to the answer. Does the organization value employees and promote from within or do they churn through employees who then flee the company? The answer will tell you how they treat employees.
If there was one thing you would change about the organization, what would it be and why?
No one wants to discuss weaknesses so this will tell you some of the negatives without having to explicitly ask.
Lee H. Eisenstaedt
Founder, Leading With Courage Academy
What’s not tolerated here?
One of the most important takeaways from an interview for a candidate is an understanding of the organization’s culture.
Asking the interviewer to describe their culture usually leads to answers like integrity, putting our customers first, and collaboration. My experience is you’ll get much more specific, honest insights into the culture of an organization by taking this unexpected approach.
Founder & Creative Director, Signature Video Group
What is the biggest opportunity currently facing your company?
This really made me think about both short and long term goals for our business and helped me visualize this person as a pro-active problem solver that could help us achieve goals. It wasn’t about them, it was about how they can help us.
Co-Founder & COO, Chargebacks911
Here are a few questions that can help individuals land a job:
- Who do you think would be an ideal candidate for this position?
- What are the biggest challenges someone in this role would face?
- What do you like most about working for this company?
- What would I expect on a typical day?
- What employee tends to excel here?
- Have I answered all your questions?
- What is the next step in the hiring process?
Employers typically look for candidates who can have a conversation with them and can also be professional. 3-4 questions are plenty within an interview process.
A good question is something uniquely insightful about our business
This is particularly if they respectfully question how we do something. A good example is:
“I noticed that you mentioned you get a lot of search traffic from certain speech analytics keywords, but I noticed this similar keyword with low competition that you don’t rank well on. Why did you choose to do that? Also, if you think its a good idea, here is my plan for how we can rank #1 on it.”
These types of questions show the following:
- They know how to research our company.
- They know how to apply recently-learned information to a situation.
- They’ve done this before.
- They are thinking creatively.
- Not a know-it-all answer, they are genuinely curious and helpful.
CEO, Eyeful Media
Since joining the company, what has surprised you the most – good or bad?
It’s common to have a preconceived notion when interviewing at a company, and this question helps uncover some hidden truths. You can learn a lot about a company with one simple answer!
Marketing Director, Front Edge Publishing
What else can I tell you about myself that will help me be the best candidate for this job?
It’s an oldie and goodie! It is the question that has gotten me every job I’ve applied for since 1984.
Operating Officer, Suddora
Personally, I want to know that when I hire someone, they have an interest in staying with my business for the long term. I’d recommend asking questions along the lines of:
What’s your vision for the company over the next X years?
What opportunities could that create?
It shows a candidate wants to develop their career and doesn’t see the company as a stepping stone. The bottom line is to show long term interest.