Job interviews should not feel like interrogations. It should feel more like a conversation, with two people asking and responding to questions back and forth.
However, the key is to ask the right questions—the type of questions that shows that you have a genuine interest in the job.
Here is a list of good questions to ask in an interview as an interviewee:
Executive Coach, Inflection Point Coaching, LLC
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the US, the job market quickly shifted from a seller’s market –talent shortage, candidates have the upper hand–to a buyer’s market; there are suddenly many more talented people looking for jobs due to furloughs, layoffs and entrepreneurs re-entering the job market.
In the current market, if you are asked to interview for your desired role, the bar for getting the offer is now higher. Your resume is what got you to the table–it is table stakes. Unless you are an expert in your field or one of the very few people who have your skills, you will need to prepare extensively to stound out in the crowd.
For the hiring manager, what can make candidates stand out is the quality of their conversations and the power of their questions.
In most good interviews there will be time for the candidate to ask questions about the role, the team, and the company. Remember they are not only interviewing you, but you should also be interviewing them. Alignment of your skills to the actual role and a good cultural fit with a team and company are two things that can ensure a successful career.
Great questions will always indicate that you have done your research about the company, the industry, the strategy, and the culture. Questions are also great when they are in the context of the person/people you are interviewing with: are they the hiring manager, an internal customer, or future colleagues? If you do not know who is in the interview, ask!
As a former executive of large teams who has done a lot of hiring, here are some questions that made me stop and think, and ultimately led to some outstanding hires:
If the role is an existing one and you would be replacing a former team member:
- “If I were to be successful in this role, what would I do better or differently than the previous person?”
- “What would the team (or the internal customers) say would be an exciting change for a new person in this role?”
- “What are you desiring out of a person in this role that would make your job easier or more meaningful?”
If the role is a new one:
- “What is it about this new role that will help to make the strategy successful?”
- “What is different about this role from previous versions of it?”
- “Is there anyone who needs to be convinced that this new role will help make their lives easier and their team more successful?”
If the interviewer is an internal customer:
- “What could I bring to the role that would make you think I was a successful hire?”
- “What would a successful hire do differently that would improve the relationship with the team, or ensure better solutions?”
Some questions are better at specific phases of the interview process. If the candidate is in the second or final phase of the interview process here are a couple of thought-provoking questions:
- “What are the unwritten rules or norms that I would need to be aware of to make sure we are successful?”
- “If there is an area of the company culture or values that this role could help fulfill more successfully, what would that be?”
- “Are there any quiet influencers or behind-the-scenes decision-makers (not necessarily in obvious positions of power) that would be good for me to build strong relationships with?”
These will act as great wrap-up questions toward the end of the interview:
- “What critical thing do you wish you had known when you were first hired?”
- “What is your favorite thing about coming to work each day?”
- “If I could help improve one thing what would that be?”
One of the most important things to remember is to listen meaningfully and be curious. If the interviewer repeats keywords or phrases, ask about the deeper meaning behind those and then use those words in your own questions.
Your previous experience and your resume only brought you to the table for the interview. The power of your questions, backed by preparation, research, and curiosity, will make you a candidate that will be remembered.
Business Consultant | Speaker | Author, “Grow It Now!: The Business Leader’s Handbook to Driving Revenue, Engagement, and New Opportunities”
Job searches can be scary for many people, because of what’s often behind someone’s reason for seeking new employment. Today, we know that employees do not feel connected to their work, are not engaged in mass numbers, and want a workplace that supports them on their human journey with programs, policies, and a culture that gets it.
When people show up to interview, they may be in a toxic work environment, underpaid, undervalued, and desperate for change. If you noticed the trend of what was just mentioned, it’s largely negative. Negative thinking and negative drivers can lessen your ability to ask the right questions to make sure this change is the right one for you.
Clearing out your mind before an interview is essential for a successful transition or new job. With clarity and an open mind, you’ll be in the position to ask valuable questions that can help you land the right fit, and possibly make more money. Here are three key questions I tell my coaching clients to ask in every interview, and why.
“Can you tell me more about what you’re looking for?”
You’ve been there, reading those five-page job descriptions written for an astronaut, while the job is clearly posted for an entry-level retail role. A lot of the time employers have no clue what they want, what they truly need, and are on the quest to find the perfect candidate, wasting their time and the time of interviewees.
When you see a job description that is long, you need to understand what the must-haves are versus the employer’s dream list. If you take a job with an employer like this, odds are, you’ll run into trouble at some point, and might have a poor evaluation because you didn’t do something that was on the five-page hiring manifesto; too short, and the same can be true.
Remember, your job description can and will be used against you by a bad boss, so make sure you understand what they want, need, and expect. Always ensure that you look for this keyword, “Employees will perform these tasks or duties, and other things as assigned.”
The “as assigned” part can make your life a living hell if you do not understand what those look like and what the scope of work might entail. Ask them what they’re looking for and listen to every word to see if this is the right fit for you.
“Can you tell me about the person who was in this role before me, what their tenure was, and what the overall tenure is inside your company?”
Knowing how long someone occupied your future position is critical. This question tells you a company’s turnover metric, and if they promote internally, or if people leave to find other opportunities.
Any hiring manager worth working for will tell you the turnover for the position because it matters. The last thing you want to do is think you are joining a place where you’ll be for years, and in reality, everyone who came before you only stayed for six months.
You can expand on the question by asking, “So, what are the keys to retaining employees in this position?” to learn more about their employee engagement strategy, culture, and mindset. Progressive companies value keeping talented people through effective leadership, programs, and inclusive cultures.
“Can you share the budgeted amount for the position and what total compensation looks like?”
Rule #1, never, ever, ever tell a recruiter your salary. I repeat, never tell a recruiter your salary! This will keep you making less than what you could make if you learned how to ask the right question to make more money.
Money is a funny thing in America. We’re #1 in capitalism because we train employees to fear asking for more money. Wonder why? It keeps companies more profitable when millions of people do not know how to ask for a higher starting wage or raise.
Every company has a budget for the position they are hiring and will tell you the range of what they can pay, or a fixed amount if it is already set. Sometimes, hiring managers or senior leaders, who see your value because you articulated how you can contribute to the company and their goals in the interview process, may fight to pay you more or come up with a sign-on bonus to split the difference. Total compensation also includes vacation time, so don’t be afraid to ask for three weeks instead of two.
Remember, most of the world’s developed countries have more leave than we do, so ask for it to enjoy your precious life outside of work. While some people will advise you not to discuss money upfront, I advise the opposite, because money matters.
If the job cannot pay you what you need in order to pay your bills, save for retirement, and have the quality of life you want, you need to know upfront so you don’t waste your time interviewing to only find out you’d be broke working for this company. Asking for a salary range in the early stages is totally ok and the smart move that will signal to a recruiter you know your worth and bottom line.
Overall, use the interview process to learn more about one another, and to set the framework of your working relationship. Can you be yourself in the interview? Are these your kind of people? Do they get you and do you get them? Can you see yourself working well in their office environment or work from home set-up?
Using your interview time wisely can lead you to a world of opportunity, joy, and career success if you learn what questions to ask while taking the time to fully listen to the answers provided to make the decision that’s best for you.
Michael Trust, MPA, SPHR, PHRca, SHRM-SCP
Human Resources Director, Michael Trust Consulting
Interviewing is a two way street. Many candidates believe that they have no leverage in this process. However, good organizations understand that an interview is a conversation, and that a conversation is a two way dialogue.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t have prepared questions that they want to get through and you should allow them to do that and/or to let you know when they want you to ask questions. Skilled interviewers are good at working through their questions and allowing you to ask questions as you go through the interview, and this becomes a free-flowing (within the parameters of what both parties want to learn) conversation.
It’s often far more relaxed, as well. You can often glean a great deal of information in this type of format as often, the interviewer will also let their guard down. Some organizations, particularly in the public sector, have very regimented interview protocols and in those cases, it’s going to be harder to have a conversation, at least in the early rounds.
Remember: you’re interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you; you have things you want to get out of a new role, whether that’s higher pay, more training, career advancement, industry change, etc. You have the power to walk away if the organization is not what you want (assuming that you don’t desperately need a job, in which case you take it until you find something that suits you better).
Always be polite, responsive, and answer the questions being asked. Use their questions and your questions to flush out more about the job and fit – for you both. While many find interviewing nerve-wracking, with practice, it can become a great way to land a new role, or at the very least, network and gain new connections.
- Questions about the role. What’s expected, when it’s expected.
- Why is the role open.
- Management or leadership style of the supervisor.
- Career advancement opportunities.
- If you find bad reviews online, ask about them (there are usually two or even three sides to a story).
- What key traits are they looking for in the person they hire.
- What defines success in the role.
- If the position supervises, what staff does it supervise? What is the impression of the existing staff?
- What does a typical day look like?
- Do people work a lot of extended hours? (I wouldn’t ask this until you have an offer or are in a final interview, as it could be a turn-off at an early interview stage)
- What are the 30/60/90/180/365-day goals? How did those goals evolve/get added to the list? What resources will be available to help achieve them?
- What have past people in this role done to be successful? (if it’s a new role, what do you envision as someone who will be successful in the role?) (could overlap with #6)
- What budget is allocated to accomplish these goals (if appropriate).
- If this is a new role, what led them to create it. Who handled it before? If it’s not a new role, why did the former person leave the role?
These questions assume that you’ve already done your homework on the organization and that you ask them at the appropriate time during or after the interview process.
Never ask about pay, benefits, time off, etc. until you’re at the offer stage, or in response to a question that you’re asked. If you’re asked what you’d like to earn, ask what the role pays or what the range is and/or give a range (but don’t over or undersell yourself, so do your research).
Career Advancement Expert | Founder, Gulfstream Career Development
I recommend having three categories of questions ready to go before entering an interview.
“How do you envision the company evolving over the next five years?”
Asking this question demonstratesto the interviewer that you are interested in the growth and long-term successof the company. It also shows that you are a forward thinker, poised to help the company adapt to and capitalize on the trends projected to impactindustries.
“What values does the company hold and how does it demonstrate these values?”
This question offers an opportunity for job seekers to make sure that the company’s values align with theirs. Further, it shows that you are interested in working for a company that does busines swith integrity and protects their reputation.
“In your opinion, what qualities do successful employees of the company exhibit?”
This question helps demonstrate to your interviewer that are interested in excelling with the company should you be hired.
“What is the most challenging aspect of this position?”
Asking this question shows your supervisor that you expect the role to present you with challenges and that you are ready to meet them head-on.
“What are the most important qualities for someone to possess in order to be successful in this role?”
This question shows that you want to succeed once in the position and are adaptable. Also, as a bonus, you may gain insight into what the company is seeking in a candidate that you can use to frame yourself as an ideal candidate in later round interviews.
“Looking beyond the technical skills that are required for this position, what soft skills are necessary for success in this position?”
This question shows that you recognize that a stand out employee possesses more than just technical skills, they can connect with their co-workers, communicate effectively, and work well with others.
“What has been your most memorable moment with this company?”
This company offers you a chance to give the interviewer a chance to speak and reflect on their experiences, building rapport.
“What are the next steps in the process and when can I expect a decision?”
This question is important, you gain valuable information that you need.
HarperCollins Leadership Author | Founder & Executive Director, Professionals In Transition
You can tell when a job interview is almost complete when you are asked: “Do you have any questions for me?”
Always have questions to ask. This is your chance to both make a strong final impression. It’s also an opportunity to potentially clear up any questions or concerns you may have that came up during the interview.
Great questions allows you to put the “icing on the cake” in terms of building rapport. Remember, at all times to “Be the Answer” to the employers need.
Your only job during a first interview is to get a second interview. Your response after each question can be framed around reinforcing how you are the answer to the company’s needs.
When you ask a question and get an answer, you may be able to rephrase their answer and add in how you are uniquely qualified.
Concentrate on building rapport throughout the interview and put a bright red bow on the interview by asking these questions:
“What is a typical day like in this position?”
This will give you an idea of how your future boss sees the position and reveals key daily priorities from their perspective. It may reveal major issues that need to be addressed. It’s maybe an opportunity to align and reinforce your abilities to get the job done.
“How long has this position been open?”
This is a very telling indicator of need. If the position has been open for a long period of time, it’s important to try to find out why. (without being too intrusive)
“What does it take to excel in this position/company?”
This is a “fit” question for you to determine if you really like the position and that your skill set matches your future bosses perception of the job.
“How does this department/division fit within the company?”
A question like this gives you an idea of the “pecking order” and a bigger picture of the potential impact your position could have on the company.
“Where do you see a person in this position in 5 years?”
This enables you to see a potential career track going forward with the company.
“What do you see as the greatest challenges for this position/department/division?”
Although you won’t have access to a companies Long Range Plan, answers your this question will allow you to “frame” appropriate answers around the greatest needs.
It’s important to approach the interview as a consultant, rather than an ‘interviewee’. Framing the interview this way puts you in an equal position of power by assessing the situation of the hiring company, what you can bring to the table and asking lots of questions on what they are looking for to see if it’s a fit.
Attitude is so important. You should be thinking ‘they’re lucky to get me’ rather than put the interviewer/company on a pedestal and infantilize yourself.
With that in mind, here are some great questions to ask an interviewer:
“What are you really looking for? Is there anything outside of the job description in terms of personality and working style?”
This question is so important because a lot of the times there are nuances to the person they want to hire in this role, whether it’s how they work or will fit into the office dynamics.
“What would be the perfect fit for you?”
This is another way to uncover the nuances of what they are looking for personality wise for this role, as well as how they’ll fit into the larger team structure and any skills they need from this person.
“What are the prospects for growth?”
Many people can shy away from this however it’s important to see what the opportunities are for growth and promotions down the track – how do they evaluate this and is there room? Is growth and mentoring a part of their culture?
“What are the day to day responsibilities?”
So you can get an idea of the reality of the role and if this interests you.
“Who will I be working most closely with?”
It’s important to know who you will be working with, their style of working and expectations to see if it’s a mutual fit. This is also the perfect time to ask about office dynamics and the workplace culture.
“Is there anything else you want to know about me and my qualifications?”
This enables the interviewer to be more candid with what skills or experience they really want to see or hear about that you perhaps haven’t been able to touch on yet or didn’t highlight in your resume, allowing you to bring it back to yourself and provide examples.
The first thing to remember when interviewing for a job is, you do not need this job! Yes, you need a job, but not this job. When you go into an interview in the belief that you must have the job, the most likely outcome is that you will make yourself subservient to the hiring manager, giving him/her power that they didn’t have until you got there and gave it to them. Then, in what most people see as an adversarial process, you have to fight against the power you just gave them! Brilliant!
Despite the title of this article, if you think of yourself as the interviewee, you’re already in trouble, because psychologically, the interviewee is having something done to them by the interviewer!
Consider a different situation. You’re feeling sick, so you go to the doctor. In the conversation you have with the doctor, who has the problem? You do- you’re sick. Who’s asking all the questions? The doctor. Why? So he/she can diagnose and fix the problem. In this question and answer period, who’s in charge? The doctor. Why? Because he/she is going to fix the problem.
Apply this to the interview. Which one of you has the problem? By definition, the hiring manager. Nobody hires unless they have a problem. Which one of you has the potential solution to the problem? You do. So, who’s in charge? That’s right- you are.
Your goal in the interview is not to get a job. It’s to discover three things: (1) does the hiring manager have the kinds of problems you like to solve; (2) can you solve them; (3) do you want to solve them? If the answer is yes to all three, your goal is to get another interview. If not, and you know someone who might be right for the job, your goal is to help the hiring manager.
You must remember that you’re interviewing the hiring manager just as much as he/she is interviewing you. If this isn’t so, you could be making a bad hiring decision yourself. So you need to ask the questions that will give you the information you need. The three most important factors in an interview are chemistry, ability, and experience, in that order. So you want to develop the chemistry, show your abilities, and relate your experience (if relevant).
In order to do that, you need information, so you need to be asking questions. Here is a small sample:
- “Please give me a sense of your satisfaction with your organization as it exists now. What changes would you like to see? What would you like it to look like a year from now?”
- “What are your expectations of the person you hire?”
- “What are the three biggest challenges I would face in this job?”
- “How does the role you’re trying to fill impact organizational performance?”
- “Would my work be primarily team-based, or as an individual contributor?”
- “Please describe the resources that would be available to me in this job.”
- “Let’s say for the sake of the discussion, that you hire me. It’s now a year later and you’re working on my performance evaluation. What will have happened in the past year that makes you really glad that I was the one you hired?”
- “What would our reporting relationship look like? Would we meet daily, weekly, only when there’s a problem?”
- “What is the next step in the hiring process? When should I expect to hear from you? Fine, if I haven’t heard from you by then, I’ll call you.”
Giving yourself permission to be the doctor will go a long way to winning the interview and advancing your career.
Organizational Psychologist | Owner, Irina Cozma Consulting, LLC
“What is the most pressing challenge the team/company is facing? What skills are needed to solve the issue?”
This question will show you are interested to understand more about the company and you are thinking already about how you can help. Once you hear their answer, scan your skillset, and share an example of how you did something similar in the past.
“What is your onboarding process? What should I expect in the first month to three months?”
This question shows you are proactive and ready to learn. You understand there is a learning curve and you are curious to anticipate how the process will be. Once you hear their answer, share back how long it took you to get familiar with the work at your last job (assuming the example will be in your favor).
“Could you tell me more about the team I will work with?”
This is another example of being proactive and showing that you want to situate yourself in that team already. Once you hear their answer, provide some examples of how you worked in the past in similar teams (e.g., diverse team, remote teams).
“What gets you most excited about the company’s future?”
This will give you an opportunity to collect more data points about the interviewer and company. Most of all, this might give you an entry to relate at the personal level with the interviewer if their answer is something you can build on (e.g., if a new line of innovative products is a big part of their future, talk about how that relates with something you already did or want to do).
VP of People and Co-Founder, Zety
“What are the current focus areas for the company as a whole?”
What are the company’s goals for the future? Smart people want to know what they are getting themselves into. If you ask these questions, you show you want to see yourself as a part of the company long-term and that you see the bigger picture.
“What could you tell me about the company that isn’t widely known?”
What kind of management style do you promote in the company? – these questions demonstrate your interest in the company and portray you as someone who cares about the company’s livelihood and success as a whole.
“What is the work culture like here? What do you/employees like most about working here?”
Good questions to show that you are willing to see if you are a good fit to co-create company culture and show that company values are an extremely important part of your work.
“How do you measure performance and success in this role?”
What types of people are the most successful here? These questions show an A-player and a high performer’s attitude. If you ask similar questions, it shows you are not afraid of challenges and are eager to perform well.
President, Executive Search
Our best advice to a candidate interviewing for a new job is to do as much homework as possible about the company you hope to join so your questions will be smart and focused.
In general, what you need to learn is why they are looking for new hires, and what exactly do they need
As recruiters, we are often able to provide answers to those background questions but if you are on your own, you need to explore these questions carefully.
If they’re seeking to replace someone who has left it would be great to find out why. A company that seems to have significant turnover may be unfocused and disorganized. Search LinkedIn for the firm name to see if you can find links to current or past employees and look to see how long those individuals were employed. In general of course, churning through staff is not a good sign. On the other hand, if they appear to be in an expansion mode ask what the firm’s goals are and how the position they have defined will fit into their strategy.
Ideally, a job interview is a conversation that reveals important information on both sides. Listening carefully is your best strategy. If the interviewer is a little full of themselves, let them ramble on and perhaps you’ll learn useful facts that will help you make your decision should they make you a job offer.
Save the critical talk about salary and benefits until last if possible
On your side, it’s best to show sincere interest before bringing money into the conversation and hopefully, the good impression you make will encourage them to make an offer on the high side. Once again, if you have been recruited by a headhunter, you can get invaluable advice about current market conditions and industry norms.
Managing Director, Intrinsic Search
Here are a couple of questions I recommend job candidates ask during the interview to get a clear understanding of their role if hired, not to mention make a good impression on the interviewer:
“What skills are you looking to fill with a new hire?”
Before you agree to join a team, you want to understand exactly what they need you for. Are there skills gaps that need to be filled or will your role be duplicating what is already available and therefore have little to no impact, which would essentially make you dispensable when push comes to shove.
Proceed with caution if the interviewer is unable to tell you with precision what they are hoping you will accomplish in your new role.
“How does the company set up employees for success?”
Each new job should help propel your career goals upward and forward. Your potential employer should be able to tell you about the various opportunities for professional development and career advancement available for the particular role you are interviewing for.
Before making a decision, you should be sure that this new job fits into your career plans.
“How are employees evaluated?”
Before taking up a new role, it is important to be on the same page about performance measurement and to see whether the company’s SOP for employee evaluation aligns with your style and preference. If you are the type of worker who values autonomy, a workplace that requires constant updates as part of the performance evaluation process might not be a good fit.
Leadership Development & Career Strategist
“How long have you worked here, and what made you want to join the company?”
Asking this question not only allows you to connect on a personal level with the interviewer, but it allows you to get a sense of the company culture without asking the cliche “What’s the culture like?” question.
It also gives you a more real and tangible answer compared to the generic “Work hard, play hard” responses that come when you ask the culture question directly.
“What is the strategic vision for the company over the next few years?”
This shows the company that you are business-minded and want to think about this opportunity strategically. It shows that your intention is to work for a company long-term and that you want to be a part of an organization that knows where it is headed because you know where you are headed.
“What does success in this role look like over the first 30 days?”
Asking this question shows the employer that you are already thinking about what specific activities need to be done in this role to be successful. It shows that you are capable of planning and execution and that you are already showing ownership for the role.
“Why is this role available? Is this newly created, did someone leave (and why), etc.?”
This question allows you to get a sense of anything that may be amiss with this opportunity–does it report into a difficult personality? Are you replacing someone who couldn’t perform? If so, does this mean you have a mess to clean up when you walk in the door?
These are all things to think about, and this question is a way to get you a picture of what is going on behind the scenes.
“What kinds of business objectives does this role need to meet?”
This gives you an understanding of the KPIs so that you are clear of what is being asked of you. Making sure the KPIs are aligned with the job description is important and allows you to paint a picture of what the day-to-day would be like.
Leadership Coach | Founder, Career Meets World
The questions you should be asking an employer are continuously changing, whether it be about working from home, re-opening plans, and employee health and safety protocols are all critical topics. Employers can typically answer all of these questions clearly and articulate what you may experience if you were to join the company.
If they show any hesitation to answer or struggle to provide full details, those are potential red flags. We’re looking for employers to convey openness in their answers and provide a lens into the organization as the times shift.
As the pandemic continues, the interview methodology is shifting and adapting, so candidates need to adjust the quality of questions they post to the interviewer. To ensure you are able to obtain a full view of the organization, here are 6 questions to focus on throughout your interview process.
Here are some questions I would recommend asking during the interview:
- “How are you and your family holding up during the pandemic? (personal and caring)”
- “What have some of your most successful employees demonstrated during the onset of the pandemic?”
- “What would you need your new hire to accomplish in the first 90-180 days after starting this role?”
- “What is the team’s communication cadence while working from home?”
- “What lessons have the company learned during the pandemic?”
- “How has the leadership team responded during the pandemic?”
Your goal is to convey compassion, understand your potential impact, and assess the company’s leadership quality. This will provide you an opportunity to show your thoughtfulness while pressure testing the organization to ensure it’s a culture and community you want to join.
HR Manager, LiveCareer
As remote work has become a new reality for many companies, it’s essential to ask how the organization operates when facing this new challenge. As a potential new employee, you want to know how your team handles things like remote onboarding, daily communication, and scheduling.
Here are some questions you should ask:
“How does your organization manage remote onboarding?”
When you join a new team, your organization should offer you the support and guidance you need to develop into your new role. Onboarding is especially important when social interactions are limited and happen exclusively online. Be proactive when asking how your future organization trains and integrates newbies into their new teams.
“Are there any fixed working hours?”
Once you have more experience, you will gain more flexibility in arranging your schedule. Find out ahead of time if there are any specific working hours when you need to be available. Is there an online team meeting at a particular time every day? Which tools does the team use to communicate daily? Don’t be afraid to ask such questions as these components will impact your job satisfaction in the long run.
“Does the company offer any remote work benefits?”
Many office benefits that companies used to offer are now gone. Employees working from home don’t have access to office space, equipment, coffee, or snacks.
Organizations are aware that they need to motivate their employees in different ways. It’s becoming more popular to provide additional home office equipment, coverage of internet bills, or even grocery store gift cards. Make sure to ask about the company’s approach to remote work benefits, especially if the organization plans to remain remote for an extended period.
Director of Recruiting, Apollo Technical
It’s important to have questions prepared when speaking with the interviewer. Not only does help show interest in the position it also helps you get a better idea of whether the opportunity is the right fit for you.
With that in mind, I list some of my favorite questions candidates should ask when interviewing with a hiring manager.
If you’re speaking with the direct hiring manager you will want to get a feel for what motivates them, their personality, and their management style. Does the manager enjoy working there? Do they seem demanding or laid back? How do they view the company’s future?
- “What made you decide to join the company?”
- “What excites you about the company’s future?”
- “What is a typical day like in the office?”
- “Can you describe the company’s culture to me?”
- “How would you describe your management style?”
Impact and teamwork questions
Askin these questions will help you better understand the job you’re interviewing for, the skills and personality needed to be successful, and how you will fit into the company’s overall structure.
- “What are your expectations for the job opening?”
- “How do you measure success in the role I’m interviewing for?”
- “Can you tell me what type of personalities generally work well within your team?”
- “How do this role and my skillset fit within the current team’s structure?”
- “What are some current problems facing the company I can help with?”
- “What is the best way to make sure I get off to a good start with teammates?”
If you’re highly interested in the opportunity then it’s a good idea to want to know what you’re up against and how soon the company is expecting to fill the position.
- “Can you explain the career path for someone starting in this role?”
- “How long have you been interviewing for the position?”
- “What is your timeline for having someone start?”
- “How do I compare to other candidates that have interviewed?”
- “Can you tell me the next steps in the interview process?”
Asking the right questions, preparing, and showing genuine interest in the opportunity will help separate you from others interviewing for the same position.
“What do you do for fun, self-care, or to relieve stress?”
A person with no hobbies is an unhealthy person, and you want to avoid unhealthy bosses. Ideally, the interviewer launches immediately into a short list of the things she enjoys in life. Favorite hiking locations and restaurants are discussed. Book recommendations are exchanged.
Have your own answers ready, and make them interesting, because this question is coming right back to you. You’re friends now.
“What’s the most exciting thing about this job? Or, what gets you out of bed in the morning?”
You want to see their eyes light up. Their excitement is contagious. You can’t wait to work there.
“What does bad leadership look like to you?”
You want them to define their version of bad leadership (so you can see how it relates to your own), convey professionalism by not naming names, and inadvertently commit to you that they’re not going to be a bad leader to you if you take the role. This should naturally flow into a conversation about examples of good leadership.
“Can you tell me about a situation of distress that you / your team / the company went through together?”
Hopefully they have a good story to share, rather than glossing over it. You want to get a sense of how their team functions together in those situations: do the stronger team members help the weaker ones? Is that recognized and valuable to the company?
In this conversation you are signaling that you understand that problems occur and you’re focused on solving them.
Paul Walsh FIA, FSAI, LLB
CEO, Acumen Resources
Having worked in the recruitment business for 22 years, there are a few key things I’ve learnt from candidates going for interview. The interview is all about demonstrating your expertise and suitability for the job and, of course, doing your best to create a good impression. Most interviews provide the interviewee with an opportunity to ask the interviewer questions. This is something you should go in expecting and something you should think very carefully about in advance.
Here are three good questions to consider asking, and my rationale behind why I think they should be top of your pick:
“What are the opportunities for professional development and growth in this company and role?”
This is a good question because not only does it give you a chance to really find out more about the prospects to grow as a professional and the employer’s attitudes towards an important part of your future development, but it also helps to show the employer that you are the sort of person that wants to grow and learn.
Work is becoming ever more competitive and individuals with a growth mindset, and proactive about learning and development, are increasingly being seen as being very valuable future employees.
“Where is the company heading and where do you see the company in three years’ time?”
The world is changing very fast. And no-one wants to get left behind. The harsh reality is that companies and individuals need to be able to be adapt to the changing times and ensure that their offerings and skills remain valued. It’s, therefore, of paramount importance these days, for most companies, that they are forward-thinking and planning ahead as the world of work continues to change at a rapid rate.
“How would you describe the culture of the company?”
Company culture is a very important factor in your job satisfaction. Different cultures suit different individuals. This question is useful since listening to the answer will give you great insight into whether or not you see yourself happily working there for the foreseeable future.
Managing Partner, Summit Search Group
As a recruiter and manager, I will start by saying candidates shouldn’t neglect the “Do you have any questions?” stage of the interview. A surprising number of people I interview clearly had none prepared when they walked in.
The questions you ask the interviewer can absolutely make a difference in whether you move along in the process, so you should prepare them as well as you do your answers.
“What are the main challenges you’ve experienced with this position in the past?”
This is similar to asking about the responsibilities of a job and similarly demonstrates that you are already thinking of how you can best fill the role you’re applying for. I find it better, however, because it’s specifically addressed at identifying and preparing for the most difficult aspects of the position.
“What are the company’s current goals and how does this position fit into them?”
This question serves two purposes. First, it shows you’re able to think about the big picture. Second, it gives you insight into how company leadership sees the company changing or growing, which is helpful context to have as you’re starting a new job (or deciding whether to take one).
“How do performance reviews work here? What metrics will be used to evaluate my performance?”
From the interviewer’s perspective, this question demonstrates the candidate is concerned with doing a good job and wants to receive feedback on their performance. From the candidate’s perspective, it provides insights into the company culture and the level of coaching you’ll get as an employee.
Lori Davis, J.D.
Interviewing is fraught with angst for most job seekers. Countless hours are spent preparing for possible questions an employer might ask. Will the interviewer ask about the reason I left my last job? Will she ask about my working relationship with my previous supervisor? Will I connect well with the interviewer? The list goes on and on.
Questions for the interviewer are among the last considerations job seekers prepare for in advance. Questions to learn about a potential supervisor and her communication style, work preferences and success metrics are critical components that cannot be overlooked before accepting an offer.
Developing three to five questions that one can ask near the conclusion of an interview is a useful way to determine whether a prospective employer is an appropriate fit for your work habits and career trajectory.
I recommend questions for potential employers from thefollowing categories: 1) Position; 2)Supervisory-Employee relationship; and 3) Growth and Promotion.
- “What would you describe as the three primary challenges of this role?”
- “What are the top three goals you expect a new hire to achieve within the first 90 days?”
- “How often do you provide written or face-to-face feedback to a staff member?”
- “How do you measure success for a new hire in this role?”
Supervisory-Employee Relationship questions:
- “What attributes would the ideal candidate for this position possess?”
- “What are your expectations for communication with, and from, a new employee?”
- “How will the new employee help make your work easier to manage?”
- “How would you describe your work style?”
- “What are your “pet peeves” in the workplace?”
- “Have you assessed your strengths? What are the Top 5 strengths with which you lead?”
- “How would you describe your relationship withyour immediate supervisor?”
Growth and Promotion questions:
- “What types of professional development are available?”
- “When can a new employee participation in professional development activities?”
- “What is the career pathway for a new employee in this role?”
- “How are promotional opportunities extended to those who excel in this role?”
Selecting questions such as these will most likely elicitresponses from a potential employer that will help an applicant decide if theposition and employer are right at that point in her career. While it’s important for an applicant toshine in responding to the interviewer’s questions, it’s just as imperative to elicitthe necessary information to adjudge the suitability of the position on one’swork life and career goals. Take thetime to craft questions that require the interviewer to elaborate and providespecific examples in her responses. Understanding the employer’s positive and negative points will provide onewith the due diligence to make the best decision.
David Reitman, Esq.
President, DLR Associates
Now, before we get into answering your questions, let me start by saying that the questions you ask as an interviewee will depend on where in the interview process you are.
I have seen situations where the candidate has had 5 or 6 different meetings with various employees, sometimes on one long day, sometimes on different days. I will focus today on the first interview only. It will also depend on how detailed the job description is. The more information provided, the less questioning you need to do.
I advise my candidates to do a lot of listening during the first round interview and take notes because the notes you take will help you develop questions you might not have thought of.
Avoid discussion of salary, benefits, and granular details during the first interview. Your goal is simply to put your best foot forward and “introduce” yourself to the hiring manager. Certainly create a list of questions you might ask (you might choose to hold off on some questions, depending on how the interview pans out).
I advise the candidate to take a good look around the office of the interviewer, and try and get a sense of who this person might be. You can warm up the room by asking questions like: “Oh, what lovely children you have”, etc.
Here are some questions you might ask on a first interview:
- “Can you tell me some things about your corporate culture, and what your expectations are for new hires?”
- “Can you give me an idea of the structure of the department I am interviewing for, ie: number of people on the team, what title I would have, and the title of the person(s) I report to?”
- “How do you see my skillset being used to help your company?”
Founder, People First Planning
“What is the Promotional Path for this Job?”
For any given job posting, a large portion of the applicants are simply looking for a steady paycheck, and are not interested in a long-term relationship with the employer. This type of candidate is at high risk of leaving soon after being hired, as they are more likely to jump ship if they get a better offer at another employer. A competent hiring manager is looking for evidence that their newly hired employee will make a real commitment to the organization.
By asking about the likely promotional path of the role, you are conveying the following information to the hiring manager:
- I am a long-term hire. If I join your organization, I plan to stick around for a while. Thus, it’s important to know the likely next steps in my career at your company.
- I don’t take the decision lightly. I am not one of the candidates that will say anything to get hired. I need to know that this will work out for both of us in the long run.
- I am qualified for this position. I see myself as highly competent to fulfill the requirements of this role and am already looking ahead to the next challenge in your organization.
While this is a great question to show your thoughtfulness to a prospective employer, it is also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the employer and ensure the job is aligned with your long-term career aspirations.
If the response doesn’t meet your expectations, be candid, and talk about what you are really looking for in the next steps of your career. By initiating this conversation, you are more likely to land the job (and career) that you desire.
Founder and CEO, Elizabeth Elting Foundation
“What does a normal day in this position ideally look like?”
It shows me you’re focused on the work, first and foremost. The thing about employment in a professional field is that there is a level at which it can’t be just a job; you don’t just put in your eight hours and leave. Employers are looking for people who are committed to excellence and able to find ways to be passionate about their work.
“What are my opportunities for advancement?”
First, because it shows you’re interested in something long-term, and second because advancement comes with performance. I want to see you looking to level-up. It shows you’re forward-thinking, ambitious, and confident that you will make us better, all things I want to see in a new hire.
Founder & CEO, Golden Key Partnership
After interviewing hundreds of candidates both for my own companies and with my clients, these are a few of my favorite questions. Some I have been asked, as well as a few I wish candidates would ask to help us get to know them better and connect.
Remember, as an interviewee, you need to make sure the role you are interviewing for is as much of a fit for your life plan as it is for them.
“How are you measuring my success in this role?”
What this says about you: Asking this question tells me that you are thinking 5 steps ahead and making sure that both of our expectations around success in this role are the same. I have seen time and time again where an A player employee comes in with one expectation about a role only to find out that that is not 100% accurate.
When either party does not have the clarity and transparency about what success is in the role, that is a recipe for disaster. This question mitigates that risk exponentially.
“What accountabilities will I be held to in this role?”
What this says about you: This is a GREAT follow up question to how they measure success because it further clarifies the expectations, KPIs, and metrics that they will be held accountable to.
When we know with glarity the GPS location they (and us) are aiming for the chances of employee success and happiness will increase.
“Why is this role important to the company? How does this role fit into the company as a whole?”
What this says about you: This question is one of my favorites because it digs deeper into how you can show and support the rest of the team. It tells me you are not just looking out for yourself, but for the company as a whole and are looking for ways to not only maximize your impact but your collaboration!
“What threats might stand in the way of my being able to be successful in this role and do my job to the fullest?”
What this says about you: This is a sneaky question that allows you to show them that you recognize things will pop up and want to be proactive to mitigate and collaborate as much as possible. This also tells me that you are an A player who isn’t satisfied with the status quo but is always looking to the future and the next step.
“What innate talents or ways of being do you think would help me be more successful in this role?”
What this says about you: This is a wonderful litmus test question that if you asked in an interview would show me that you are looking for (and checking off) the talents you have to confirm they are not only in alignment, but a win-win for both you and us.
When an employee (you) not only has the capability but the capacity AND is a culture fit for the company this makes a dream team.
“What did the person in this role before me do very well, and what could they have improved upon to do better?”
What this says about you: This tells us that you are looking to be the best you can while honoring the past and planning for the future. It also tells me that you are willing and open to hearing feedback about what happened with your predecessor so that you don’t repeat their mistakes and can double down on what went well.
This takes a huge chunk of the 90-day learning curve out and also helps you integrate with the team better.
“What are the natural progression of responsibility and future roles for me after a successful tenure in this role?”
What this says about you: This tells us that you are someone who is not only an A player but someone who wants to stay and grow with us.
Studies have shown that employees stay when they know there is room to grow and develop, so this question lets us clearly see who you are and your long term goals. This allows both of us to make sure your expectations align and that we have the space to help you not only grow but thrive for years to come.
My best advice is to make sure you ask questions that help you be 100% clear on the role, the accountabilities, and what it will take for you to succeed to make sure it is a win-win for both sides! Ideally, and as corny as it may sound, you aren’t just looking for a job, you are looking for a place to call home which will nurture you, grow with you, and allow your unique talents to shine!
Don’t be afraid to dig deeper with questions until you know without a doubt you have found that home. Good luck!
Senior Career Advisor, MintResume
“Can you please describe what a typical day in this role would entail?”
In an interview, the candidate is always looking to present themselves in the best light possible. They highlight their strengths and gloss over any weaknesses, they talk about successes and never failures and always look smart and presentable.
The same is usually true for the interviewer; they present their company as an attractive place to work, sell the benefits of working there, and the exciting tasks you would complete as an employee. As a candidate though, how do you really know what the day to day reality will be?
Don’t be afraid to push your interviewer for a reasonable level of detail. With a realistic view ofday to day life at this company, you can make a more informed decision if offeredthe position.
Marketing Coordinator, Jobscan
Asking questions during an interview shows that you care for and are excited about the opportunity, and demonstrates your curiosity and communication skills. Unfortunately, there won’t be enough time during the interview to ask every question in the lists you find online so you’ll need to prioritize the questions you ask. Some important questions to ask are:
“How is the department/company structured?”
Asking this demonstrates that you’re team-oriented and can see the bigger picture. It could also answer multiple questions about who you’d report to, who you’d collaborate with, and perhaps even the future of the department.
“How are company values reflected in the company culture?”
First, do your research to see if you can find the company’s mission statement or list of values. Then by asking this question, you can see if they practice what they preach.
“What are the next steps?”
Don’t put pressure on the interviewer by asking when you’ll have your next interview. Instead, ask about how they’re structuring their interview process and when you should expect to hear back.
Director of Operations, MyCorporation.com
“Why are you hiring for this position?”
A good example of a question that interviewees should ask during job interviews is “Why are you hiring for this position?” Generally, the answer to this question will vary depending on the business and its needs. Some businesses may be hiring for the first time for this role while others are hiring more team members to support existing employees in a specific department.
The answer will give the candidate more insight into the position and allow them to share what makes them the ideal hire to help guide and position the brand and business to success.
Resume Writer and Career Coach, Seasoned and Growing
When interviewing at any company it is in your best interest to learn about the culture, office environment, how you fit in, and how you can grow. When the interviewer gives you the opportunity to ask questions, take the time to learn about these things to determine if this is the right choice for you.
“What is your favorite part about working here?” and “How do you see this position evolving over time?”
Both of these questions will give you insight into what the current employee’s value in the employer as well as whether or not there is room for growth and advancement (which is always the goal!).
Happy employees often indicate a healthy work environment which often includes reasonable salaries, benefits, opportunities for growth, and collaborative atmospheres. Finding out what your long-term career looks like at that specific company will help you make a more informed choice.
HR Manager, ResumeLab
When you apply for a job and get the callback for a virtual interview, you’ll be tempted to slap an “S” on your chest. But to nail an interview, you need to prepare for it in a way that lets you walk out of there with a job offer.
Below are a few questions to ask the interviewer that will knock the socks off:
- “How is the company handling the coronavirus crisis in general?”
- “Have you gone through a series of layoffs amidst the pandemic? If so, how did the company manage the process?”
- “Do you plan to keep your employees working remotely once the crisis is behind us?”
What’s great about these tough-to-dodge questions is that they’ll help catch the interviewer off guard, let you gauge the company’s ability to cope with a crisis as well as the business’ adaptability. On top of that, you’ll be able to make a better-informed decision based on the hiring manager’s answers and decide whether you want to join the ranks or look for greener pastures.
As a founder, I also have a participation in the recruitment process of my company. I make sure that every candidate will be fit or the job position required and work according to my company’s standards. As I have been doing interviews, I noticed that not all candidates know what to ask the interviewers when asked if they have questions. I believe that the interview process is the best time to clarify all questions that they have in mind; that is why they should take the opportunity to ask.
In my opinion, here are some good questions to ask for the interviewees:
“What are the day to day responsibilities of this job?”
It will help you understand the workflow of the job you are applying for. It will also prevent you from getting overwhelmed if you will be hired and start fulfilling the role.
“What are the biggest challenges the company is facing right now?”
It will help you get to know the status of the company. You’ll never know, the company might be in a state of bankruptcy and have problems with salaries and compensation. It’s always better to be safe than waste your time in the wrong company.
Director and Careers Expert, StandOut CV
“Can you tell me about the company’s future direction?”
This will give you the opportunity to establish the amount of research that has been carried out in readiness for the interview.
A highly enthusiastic candidate might mention the company’s mission statement and objectives. Such a candidate may also refer to the positive difference that they’re confident of making. You can tighten this question to the next year, or five years if you want to find out short-term or long-term growth strategies.
Asking questions is a great way for the interviewee to demonstrate their hunger for the role. This particular question will impress the recruiter; given that it looks forward and indicates a desire to make a positive long-term contribution.
Extending beyond the personal benefits of the job (pay, bonuses or holidays offered) it suggests an engaged, proactive and ambitious mindset; leaving the interviewer with a positive impression of the candidate’s work ethic.
“What do your most successful hires do during their first weeks working here?”
One of the best questions thrown at me during an interview was something along the lines of “What do your most successful hires do during their first weeks working here?”
That to me sends a strong message that they intend to start strong. It’s a go-getter attitude I personally look for in prospective employees, and those who’ve had that kind of approach always found success in the long run. Now, if you intend to ask this question, make sure you follow through with it once you get hired.
Co-Founder and COO, Chargebacks911
When being interviewed, I think the best kinds of questions you can ask are ones that show the interviewer that you take the position seriously and are actually interested in the job.
For example, I was once asked, “What are the company’s top values, and what characteristics are you looking for in a candidate?”
These are good questions to ask because they help you evaluate the interviewer as much as they are evaluating you. It will tell you what is most important to them and help you understand their expectations and where your place will be. You can also examine your own strengths and skills to see how well they match the description provided by the interviewer.
“Where do you see the company in the next 5 years?”
Another great question to ask is “Where do you see the company in the next 5 years?” and “What do you love most about working here?” They will give you a good sense of where the company is going, their goals, and how they treat their employees. Many businesses have a special culture and unique employee dynamic, and these questions will help open the door to thoughtful discussion.
As a potential candidate, you should be interested and excited by the company you’re interviewing for. Asking about their values, what they’re looking for, and their future goals, will provide you a clear picture and help you decide whether you’re a good fit for the role.
Chief Marketing Officer, Mytis
“What was your team’s last notable achievement and how did you celebrate it?”
This deceptively simple question will provide a direct window into the company’s culture, so non-verbal responses are as important as the actual response itself.
If they seem to have to dig really deep to find an occasion where they celebrated an achievement, it might be a sign that they focus more on the tasks that are left on the to-do list instead of the successes of the team. If you are a person that relies on external validation as a motivator for your work, this might be something you’ll want to know and prepare for before joining the team.
“Is there something we did not cover today that you feel might be important?”
This question makes sure you don’t leave the room with question marks – instead, you encourage the interviewer to rack up their brain on the spot and see if there is anything that is unclear: this mental prompt will make them go through their checklist of skills and bring up any they might have forgotten to cover, ensuring they don’t later think you are not capable of a key function because it was not mentioned in the interview.
Also, it is a way to affirm that you covered everything and close the interview on a good note. Win-win!