Applying for jobs is a job in itself; according to Monster, the average job search can take five months. During that time, if you’re lucky, you’ll have numerous interviews, especially if there are a lot of companies hiring near you. Sometimes a job interview feels like a comfortable chat, and sometimes it feels like an interrogation. But a good interview should be a conversation – give and take, each side learning about the other.
Why Ask Questions in a Job Interview?
A job interview can come with some tough questions, but that doesn’t mean interviewees shouldn’t ask some questions of their own. One-sided interviews are a huge mistake; a passive interviewee just tells the interviewers that you won’t be an engaged employee. You want every advantage you can control. However, knowing the best questions to ask in interviews isn’t always easy.
Many people understand they should say something, but wonder what questions should I ask during an interview. During the interview isn’t the time for job seekers to start wondering what to ask. It’s always a good idea to come prepared with some great interview questions to ask employers. Here are some questions to ask your interviewer so you can know for sure the job is the right one.
Ask Questions About Your Place in the Company
1. What would my day-to-day work look like?
Knowing what the typical day will look like before stepping onto the floor of a new job can help make the transition and onboarding much easier. The interviewer can tell a candidate what each day might entail, or even speak on their own day-to-day duties and how it differs from others.
2. Do you have examples of the kinds of projects I would be taking on?
A job title isn’t always indicative of the types of projects an employee will have to deal with. Prospective employees can and should ask what type of projects they will have to tackle as a new hire and further down the line.
This is one of the great questions to ask in an interview for a job because it shows a candidate’s interest in understanding the real duties of the position.
3. What skills and characteristics do I need to succeed in this job?
Having the skills to satisfy job requirements doesn’t always mean having the skills to excel at a job. Asking the interviewer directly can also give candidates the ability to speak more about what they’re bringing to the table.
4. What missing link would I be filling in the team/company? Is it a new role, or did someone leave?
A new hire will either replace someone or fill a new role. Candidates can ask about the role they’re taking on, so they can have a better understanding of what the position will really ask of them.
5. What are the toughest challenges in this role?
Every role comes with challenges, and knowing some of those challenges can help with mental preparedness. What makes this one of the great questions to ask in an interview for a job is that it lets the interviewer know the candidate isn’t trying to come to the floor with unrealistic expectations.
6. What are the most immediate needs that you would like to see me address in the first few months/first year?
Asking about employer expectations helps to show them a candidate will take their role seriously and plans to stick around. This is one of the important questions to ask in an interview for a job for candidates who want to hear about what kind of assignments they will face early on – and how to avoid common pitfalls.
7. How will my performance be evaluated? What is the process like and how are the goals set?
Asking for a level of clarity and transparency when it comes to performance goals and evaluations can also help a candidate mentally prepare for the work ahead. These questions will help shed light on a process that some employees don’t learn anything about until much later. And if they don’t have clear expectations for you, watch out – you may never know if you’re succeeding.
8. Who will I be reporting to? What kind of experience/history with the company do they have?
Some job seekers may want to know who they will report to and the credentials or background that a person has. The best questions to ask in interviews can focus on the more immediate people the candidate will have to deal with, instead of everyone involved in the business.
9. Who will I be working with this team/department? What is their experience/history with the company?
In addition, it can help a candidate to have a little information on whom they will work with and the team or department dynamics involved.
10. Is the work more collaborative or independent?
How someone works with a group is important. Collaborative positions have a completely different dynamic from positions where a candidate may find themselves setting their own pace independently. Great interview questions to ask employers can often challenge an interviewer, which helps put the interview power dynamic in favor of the candidate.
Ask Questions About Life at the Company and Company Culture
11. Why did you come to this company? Has your role changed since you’ve been here? How has the company changed since you joined?
Candidates should feel free to interview the interviewer, since they can shed light on what the company is really like. These are all good questions to ask in an interview for a job. Candidates are within their rights to ask about that person’s journey with the company.
In this way, they can learn more about how their own trajectory can look, or get a glimpse into what it is that can make someone successful at the company.
12. What are the company’s goals for the next few years? Are there new products or plans coming up?
Similarly to asking about projects, the candidate can test the interviewer’s knowledge of the brand and its plans. The interviewer may not have all the information, but asking the question shows the candidate is already looking forward.
13. What role does this team/division/department play in the company’s future?
A candidate should ask this question for several reasons. They may find a clue as to the longevity of their role or the overall importance of their function.
14. How would you describe the company culture?
Company culture is incredibly important. Some candidates may even find certain types of company culture challenging or even a deal-breaker. Pay close attention to how the interviewer responds. Look for real insight about the work environment and don’t accept stock phrases like “it’s like a family.” Dig deeper into what the interviewer means. After all, some families are healthy and work together for the greater good, and some families are deeply dysfunctional and make everyone miserable.
15. What makes this company different/better than other places you’ve worked?
Candidates should ask questions that force the company to explain itself. What makes it stand out as a positive example of a work environment?
16. Do employees socialize outside of work, at lunch, etc.?
The answer to this question can let the candidate know what type of group he or she will work with. Are they tight-knit? Are there a lot of company functions? Do employees generally get along and do lunch, dinner, or recreational activities? And is that right for you (you might just want to do your hours and go home)?
17. What kinds of team-building work does the company do? Can you tell me about the last team-building event?
Companies should always engage in team-building exercises between employees or even whole departments. If the answer to these questions seems like team building in any form happens rarely or never, candidates may have to prepare themselves to enter an every-person-for-themselves environment.
18. How much interaction is there between departments? Is there a rivalry between departments (and is it friendly or fierce)?
Companies with several departments can have a lot of competition between those departments. Since all departments contribute to the whole of the business, it’s important that they work together. Friendly, or even fierce rivalries are okay, as long as they’re not toxic. If the interviewer hints at real animosity between groups, candidates should be wary.
19. How would you describe the leadership style? Are the higher-ups engaged in the day-to-day work of the company, or more hands-off?
Leadership at a company guides and molds company culture. Answers to this question can clue candidates in on what to expect from higher-ups and how they deal with those under their care.
20. Are there benefits beyond the standard?
Ask about the benefits. Candidates should ask for details about the standard benefits many companies offer, such as stock options and other perks. However, some companies have benefits that employees aren’t even aware of because they never dug deep enough into the company documentation. The non-standard or rarely used benefits can hold just as much value as the others.
Ask Questions About Training and Professional Development
21. What is the training process? Is it specific to this company, or applicable to other companies?
Questions about training and professional development are important questions to ask in an interview for a job. Training can vary widely, even among companies that use similar systems and tools. A candidate may already have some training if the company uses standard training methods, which can make that candidate more valuable.
22. Will I have an opportunity to advance or be promoted?
Prospective employees should not shy away from asking about things like advancement and promotions. Knowing what kind of employee advancement opportunities the company offers can help a candidate decide what kind of commitment they will put into a position. Look for straight answers.
23. What kinds of networking opportunities will I have (such as representing the company at conventions)?
Will you have the opportunity to show your stuff to a larger audience? Can you eventually take on roles as a leader who can show up and represent the company while networking with others in the field? Not all positions come with these types of considerations, but for candidates with ambition, this can represent great questions to ask your interviewer.
24. Where did the person who had this job previously go? Or, where have other employees gone?
These are good questions to ask in an interview for a job. This isn’t a question about turnover, although it can give some insight into that. Rather, this question can show what kind of potential career value a candidate can achieve by working with the company. Candidates may want to give further consideration to the position if there aren’t too many good answers to this question,
25. Are you likely to hire more people in this department/team in the near future?
This question should come after a candidate has some understanding of the team or department they will work with. Too few people can mean more work for the team than is comfortable. If the company will add more people, and not just one or two, it can mean the candidate may find themselves overworked.
26. When employees are ready to leave, does the company fight to keep them or wish them well?
Nobody wants to feel easily replaced. If the interviewer makes it seem like a candidate can leave at any time without the company attempting to retain them, then that’s a company that may only hold short term gain for the candidate.
27. Is there an expectation/opportunity for continuing education? Does the company pay for certification courses, higher degrees, etc.?
Many companies do offer paid or reimbursed training, certification, and higher education opportunities. Knowing about these early on can help a candidate make an informed decision about how they can leverage their time with the company.
28. Do you feel employees are encouraged to grow or stay in their own lane/box? How so?
This is an important question because the answer will help a candidate further understand how the company views talent and those who do not want to strictly stick to a particular role.
29. Does the company support its employees’ own entrepreneurial aspirations? How?
Some companies want to nourish the potential for future partnerships. Candidates who ask this question would do well to already have an idea of how their own entrepreneurial ambitions can help the company they’re seeking employment from.
Asking About the Next Steps
30. Do you have any concerns about me that I can address?
Interviewers or hiring committees can sometimes have idiosyncratic or even ridiculous reasons for dismissing an applicant, but often their concerns are valid (ie, you don’t have enough experience, you don’t seem confident, etc). Knowing their concerns can give you a chance to address them there, or give you something to improve on your next interview.
The Takeaway: What Questions Should I Ask During an Interview?
Great interview questions to ask employers are also helpful for giving an employer more insight into how a candidate thinks. Questions to ask your interviewer should lead to a back and forth, rather than a one-sided conversation.
And, the best questions to ask in interviews will allow a candidate to give an interviewer another chance to reformat their own questions. Asking if the interviewer has any concerns or questions should tie everything up.
For candidates who wonder what questions should I ask during an interview, these questions can help get them started. Asking the right questions of the employer can also help the candidate to guide the employer towards asking the right questions of the candidate.
“What questions should I ask during an interview” doesn’t have to include every question listed here, but choosing the most relevant questions for the position is a priority. You can also come up with their own questions to ask your interviewer. Just make sure the questions to ask your interviewer are ones that you put thought into.