- Finding questions to ask your interviewer is a crucial part of preparing for any job interview.
- Asking questions is a simple way to show that you’re truly interested in the role and the company.
- Business Insider compiled a number of smart questions that are sure to impress your next interviewer.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Thinking up questions to ask during job interviews is key.
Remember: Every interview is a two-way street. You should be interviewing the employer just as much as they’re interviewing you. You both need to walk away convinced that the job would be a great fit.
So when the tables are turned and the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” take advantage of this opportunity. It’s the best way to determine if you’d be happy working for this employer, and whether your goals are aligned with theirs.
Plus, asking questions is a simple way to convey your enthusiasm for the role and the organisation that you’re looking to join.
But sometimes it’s tricky to think up questions to ask on the spot. So you should do your research, and come prepared with some questions for your interviewer.
Luckily, there are plenty of great questions to pick from, no matter your job level or industry.
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‘Have I answered all your questions?’
Before you begin asking your questions, find out if there’s anything they’d like you to elaborate on. You can do this by saying something like: “Yes, I do have a few questions for you – but before I get into those, I am wondering if I’ve sufficiently answered all of your questions. Would you like me to explain anything further or give any examples?”
Not only will they appreciate the offer, but it may be a good chance for you to gauge how well you’re doing, says Bill York, an executive recruiter with over 30 years of experience and the founder of the executive search firm Tudor Lewis.
If they say, “No, you answered all of my questions very well,” then this may tell you you’re in good shape. If they respond with, “Actually, could you tell me more about X?” or “Would you be able to clarify what you meant when you said Y?” this is your chance for a redo.
‘Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?’
Amy Hoover, SVP of Talent Zoo, recommends this question because it’s a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don’t match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position for yourself, she said.
‘Is there anything I’ve said that makes you doubt I would be a great fit for this position?’
“If you can find the courage to put your interviewer on the spot, it can help you get a quick read on the situation, provide you with valuable feedback on your candidacy, and give you the opportunity to address any objections the hiring manager may have while you still have that person’s full attention,” Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume, previously told Business Insider.
‘Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?’
While this question puts you in a vulnerable position, it shows that you are confident enough to openly bring up and discuss your weaknesses with your potential employer.
Find out how the company is doing
‘What are some of the problems your company faces right now, and what is your department doing to solve them?’
Asking about problems within a company gets the “conversation ball” rolling, and your interviewer will surely have an opinion, Vicky Oliver wrote in her book, “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.” Further, she says their answers will give you insights into their personality and ambitions and will likely lead to other questions.
‘I read X about your CEO in Business Insider. Can you tell me more about this?’
Oliver said questions like this simply show you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in the company and its leaders.
Just make sure it’s not a salacious rumour.
‘Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better?’
This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals, said Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob.
‘What’s your staff turnover rate and what are you doing to reduce it?’
While this question may seem forward, Harrison said it’s a smart thing to ask because it shows that you understand the importance of landing a secure position. “It is a black and white way to get to the heart of what kind of company this is and if people like to work here,” he said.
‘How would you score the company on living up to its core values? What’s the one thing you’re working to improve on?’
Harrison said this is a respectful way to ask about shortcomings within the company – which you should definitely be aware of before joining. As a bonus, he said it shows that you are being proactive in wanting to understand more about the internal workings of the company before joining it.
‘Can you tell me where the company is going?’
“If you’re talking to the leader of a company, that’s a great question to ask them, because they’re in the best position to tell you that,” Robert Hohman, the cofounder of Glassdoor, previously told Business Insider. “They should be able to articulate that really clearly. And it should be inspiring.”
‘Is there anything we haven’t covered that you think is important to know about working here?’
Hoover said this is a good wrap-up question that gives you a break from doing all the talking. In addition, she said you may get ” answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask but are important.”
Find out what the company culture is like
‘What makes people stay at this company?’
April Boykin-Huchko, an HR consultant, told Business Insider that it’s always a good idea to get a broader sense of the company’s culture.
‘How would you describe the company’s culture?’
Hoover said this question gives you a broad view on the corporate philosophy of a company and on whether it prioritises employee happiness.
‘What do you like about working here?’
According to The Cut columnist Alison Green, who writes the publication’s “Ask A Boss” column, your interviewer’s answer to this question can reveal a lot about their experience. If they don’t have a lot to say, Green says this is a red flag.
‘Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform this job, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?’
Knowing what skills the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and its management values, Hoover said, so you can evaluate whether you would fit in.
‘Is there anyone else I need to meet with?/Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?’
Hoover said knowing if they want you to meet with potential coworkers or not will give you insight into how much the company values building team synergy. In addition, if the interviewer says you have four more interviews to go, then you’ve gained a better sense of the hiring timeline as well, she said.
‘How do you help your team grow professionally?’
Harrison said this question shows that you’re willing to work hard to ensure that you grow along with your company. This is particularly important for hourly workers, he says, because they typically have a higher turnover rate, and are thus always looking for people who are thinking long-term.
‘When your staff comes to you with conflicts, how do you respond?’
Knowing how a company deals with conflicts gives you a clearer picture about the company’s culture, Harrison said. But more importantly, asking about conflict resolution shows that you know dealing with disagreements in a professional manner is essential to the company’s growth and success.
‘Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my staff/my manager during the interview process?’
Getting the chance to meet with potential teammates or managers is essential to any professional interview process, Hoover said. If they don’t give that chance, “proceed with caution,” she advised.
Find out more about the position you’re applying for
‘Who would I be reporting to?’
It’s important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses, Oliver wrote.
If you’re going to be working for several people, you need to know “the lay of the internal land,” she says, or if you’re going to be over several people, then you probably want to get to know them before accepting the position.
‘Can you give me an example of how I would collaborate with my manager?’
Knowing how managers use their employees is important so you can decide whether they are the type of boss that will let you use your strengths to help the company succeed.
‘What are the challenges of this position?’
If the interviewer says, “There aren’t any,” you should proceed with caution.
‘How has this position evolved?’
Basically, this question just lets you know whether this job is a dead-end or a stepping-stone.
‘What have past employees done to succeed in this position?’
The main point of this question is to get your interviewer to reveal how the company measures success.
‘If you were to hire me, what might I expect in a typical day?’
Obviously this shows your eagerness about the position, Harrison said, but it also gives you a better idea about what the job will be like on a daily basis so you can decide whether you really want to pursue it. “A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in,” he said.
‘Is this a new position? If not, why did the person before me leave this role?’
This might be uncomfortable to ask, but Harrison said it’s not uncommon to ask and that it shows you are being smart and analytical by wanting to know why someone may have been unhappy in this role previously.
If you found out they left the role because they were promoted, that’s also useful information.
Find out how to succeed at this company
‘What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing?’
This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you’re a good fit for the position, Oliver wrote. “Once the interviewer tells you what she’s looking for in a candidate, picture that person in your mind’s eye,” she said. “She or he should look a lot like you.”
‘How do you evaluate success here?’
Knowing how a company measures its employees’ success is important. It will help you understand what it would take to advance in your career there – and can help you decide if the employer’s values align with your own.
‘Where do you see the company in three years and how would the person in this role contribute to this vision?’
Asking this question will show your interviewer that you can think big picture, that you’re wanting to stay with the company long-term, and that you want to make a lasting impression in whatever company you end up at, said Harrison.
‘If hired, what are the three most important things you’d like me to accomplish in the first six to 12 months at the company?’
“Think of every open position as a problem or pain point the company is hoping to solve with the right hire,” Augustine said. “The more you know about the hiring manager’s expectations and metrics for success, the easier it will be for you to tailor the conversation to demonstrate your fit for the role.”
‘Thinking back to people you’ve seen do this job previously, what differentiated the ones who were just good from the ones who were really great at it?’
Green says this is one of the strongest questions she has ever been asked by a job candidate because it shows that you understand what the hiring manager is looking for.
Find out more about your interviewer
‘What was your career plan before you got into this role, and how has that changed since you’ve been here?’
Most people love to talk about themselves. Toward the end of your conversation, try engaging your interviewer with a discussion about their own professional path.
‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’
Becca Brown, the cofounder of the women’s shoe-care company Solemates, interviewed 20 to 30 job candidates a year in her various roles at Goldman Sachs. She previously told Business Insider she wished candidates would have asked her this question.
“I like this question, and yet no one ever asked it because it’s difficult to answer,” she said. “It’s an important question for anyone to be asking him or herself, and so if ever a candidate were to ask this question, it would have stood out.”
She continued: “I think this is a good question for interviewees to ask because as a candidate if you see where the person interviewing you is headed, you can decide if that trajectory is in line with your career objectives. While they don’t have to be completely correlated, it’s helpful for the candidate to have some indication of the interviewer’s direction.”
‘What’s one of the most interesting projects or opportunities that you’ve worked on?’
“I like this question because it gets me thinking about my own experiences, and my response changes depending on what I was or am working on – and in theory, should always be changing if I’m challenging myself and advancing,” Brown previously told Business Insider.
Brown said that by asking for a specific example, candidates can get a better picture of what the job entails and how people function in certain roles.
“I always liked getting this question because it would make me reflect on what experiences I was excited about or proud of at the time, and it would make me want to create more of these types of opportunities and experiences,” she said.
Cover all your bases
‘Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?’
“Any opportunity to learn the timeline for a hire is crucial information for you,” Hoover said.
Asking about an “offer” rather than a “decision” will give you a better sense of the timeline because “decision” is a broad term, while an “offer” refers to the point when they’re ready to hand over the contract.
‘What’s your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?’
This one tells them you’re interested in the role and eager to hear their decision.
“Knowing a company’s timeline should be your ultimate goal during an interview process after determining your fit for the position and whether you like the company’s culture,” Hoover said. It will help you determine how and when to follow up, and how long to wait before “moving on.”
‘Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?’
This simple question is polite to ask and it can give you peace of mind to know that you’ve covered all your bases, Hoover said: “It shows enthusiasm and eagerness but with polish.”
‘Do you need me to clarify or elaborate on anything I said or that you read on my résumé?’
Offer to go into greater detail on any answers you may have given, or any jobs or accomplishments on your résumé. The hiring manager will likely appreciate it.
Jacquelyn Smith, Vivian Giang, and Natalie Walters contributed to previous versions of this article.