Career Coach Tips: 36 Questions To Ask in a Job Interview
Two women sit across from each other at a table. There is a list of interview questions between them. The headline says, "Questions to ask in an interview"
The questions below the headline are:
•Can you elaborate on the day-to-day responsibilities this job entails?
•What are the characteristics of someone who would succeed in this role?
•What's the most important thing I could do to help within the first 90 days of employment?
•What are some of the challenges you've seen people in this role or on this team encounter?
• If I were in this job, how would my performance be measured?
What does the career path for someone in this role look like?
What other functions or departments does this team work with most often?
•What does your job look like day-to-day, and how would you anticipate working with the person in this role?
•What do you like best about working here?
Often toward the end of an interview, you'll be asked if you have any questions of your own. While this may seem intimidating, it's actually important to take advantage of this opportunity. Asking your own questions can not only help you decide if the role is the right fit for you, but it can also help you demonstrate to the hiring manager that you're the right fit for their company.
In this article, we'll cover some of the best questions for you to ask during a job interview, and we'll discuss some questions you should avoid asking.
Tips for asking questions in an interview
Asking thoughtful, relevant questions will show the interviewer that you've done your research and are truly interested in the position. Here are some best practices for compiling those top questions:
Prepare at least three questions to ask. It's also a good idea to think of follow-up questions based on the potential answers to your initial questions. A thoughtful follow-up question here will exhibit your active listening skills.
Bring a notebook to your interview. Yes, you can bring a notebook with you! Jot down your questions in advance and take notes during the interview. It will help you stay focused and confident.
Base your question(s) on something you discovered in your research. This demonstrates that you have invested time in learning more about the organization, the company culture and even the industry as a whole.
Think of follow-up questions based on what you learned during the interview. You can always ask for more clarification on a specific area of discussion or more details about the role's responsibilities.
Ask yourself, "What question would I need to have answered to be able to start this job next week?" Imagining a specific scenario such as this one will help you identify one or more vital questions.
Ask the interviewer about their experiences with the company. It isn't likely that these types of questions were already covered during the interview so this is a great time to learn more about the person interviewing you and their unique perspective on the company.
Ask about next steps. A common scenario is that you reach the end of your interview and realize that all of your prepared questions have been covered by the interviewer. If this is the case, you can always ask about next steps, i.e. what does the next step in this process look like?
Try to ask at least one question. Not asking any questions at all may come across as a sign that you didn't prepare or that you're not interested in the open role. Follow the tips above and keep reading for more ideas about the types of questions you can ask.
Some of the top questions to ask in an interview
The above infographic illustrates some of the best questions you can ask an interviewer or hiring manager during your interview. These questions will give you more insight into the responsibilities of the open role and the expectations of the company, as well as show your potential employer that you’ve given thought to the role and the company culture.
Take some time before your interview to go over each question and think about the kind of responses that will signal to you that this role and the company are both a good fit. For instance, does the projected career path follow your expectations or does it seem like too steep a slope to climb? Do the characteristics of someone successful in this role sound like a description of you or does it seem like you’d have to change too much to fit into the role? Knowing what kind of responses you’re looking for will help you assess the answers you receive.
Questions to ask about the specific job
Questions about the job can help you learn more about the responsibilities of the role, as well as reinforce your interest. This is your opportunity to ask for clarification on anything discussed during the interview, as well as to learn about potential hurdles, job priorities and how you can succeed in the role if hired.
Here are some top questions you can ask that are specific to the job:
Can you elaborate on the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?
What are the characteristics of someone who would succeed in this role?
What’s the most important thing I could accomplish in this role in the first 90 days of employment?
What are some of the challenges you’ve seen people in this role or on this team encounter?
If I were in this job, how would my performance be measured?
What does the career path for someone in this role look like?
Do you anticipate that the responsibilities of this job will change over the next year?
How does this role contribute to the organization’s overall success?
Questions to ask about the company
In addition to questions about the specific job, you can also leverage the research you’ve done to ask questions that showcase your interest in the company and the industry. For example, asking about the challenges the company has faced can provide you with insight into their pain points. If applicable, you can follow up on their response by sharing any experiences and skills you’d bring to the table that can help with these challenges.
Here are some top questions to ask about the company:
Who do you see as this company's biggest competitor and why?
What challenges has this company faced in the last few years? What challenges do you anticipate in the coming years?
What changes or innovations in the industry are you most excited about?
I noticed on the company website that you plan to open more office branches later this year. Can you tell me more about how the company is expanding?
Do you have a mentor system in place?
Questions to ask about the company culture
This is an opportunity for you to find out if the company culture aligns with the type of culture you’re seeking from a job. To make the most of any questions regarding company culture, you might consider researching beforehand the type of company culture you’re most interested in. Interviewers will often answer with what they like most about the culture, so it’s a good idea to ask multiple people these types of questions if you get the chance.
Here are some example questions you could ask about the company culture:
How would you describe the company culture?
What are the most important values of this company?
What are examples of company events?
How would you describe the office environment?
Do you have any employee resource groups?
What is your telecommuting policy?
How do you assist your employees in their work-life balance?
Do employees frequently make themselves available outside of business hours?
Questions to ask about the team
This type of question will help you understand more about the people you'll be working with on a regular basis and how your job interacts with their roles.
Here are some example questions you could ask about the team:
Can you tell me about the team I’d be working with?
Who directly oversees my team?
How are team members recognized for a job well done?
What are the characteristics of successful team collaboration in this work environment?
Which other departments does this team work with most often?
Questions to ask about the interviewer
Now is a perfect time to get to know the person interviewing you and to hear about the company from their point of view. This can be especially helpful if the person interviewing you is also going to be your direct supervisor.
Here are some example questions you could ask about the interviewer:
When did you start working with this company?
How long have you been in your current role?
What do you like best about working here?
How would you anticipate working with the person in this role? (To a supervisor)
What elements of the company culture do you like the best?
Questions to ask about training
Another important area of questioning involves the amount of training expected and available for the new position, as well as any opportunities to advance your skills.
Here are some example questions you could ask about training:
How will I be trained for this role?
How long is the training period for this role?
Are there any "job shadowing" opportunities available for this role?
Is there a training manual or written guidelines for best practices for this role?
Is there a training program or resources to help me develop new skills?
Questions not to ask in an interview
You want to make the most of your two or three questions but you also want to leave the interviewer with the best impression possible. Keeping that in mind, here are a few tips for topics you might want to avoid:
Questions that make it seem like you’ve already been hired. For instance, skip questions about the company’s paid-time-off policy or anything related to specific salaries or benefits. These are details that will be discussed after you’re offered the job or will be brought up by the interviewer themselves.
Questions about the other job candidates. This would include questions about how many other people are being interviewed and their qualifications.
Questions about background checks or whether your references will be contacted. These types of questions might make you sound nervous about the kind of information that will be revealed during a background or reference check.
Questions about the timing of your first performance review. Seeming overly anxious about when you'll be evaluated can come across as having a lack of confidence in your own skills. It's better to ask this question after you've assumed the new role.
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