One of the biggest mistakes people make during their job search is failing to realise that interviews are a two-way street. This means that you should be asking the interviewer questions as much as they’re asking you about your experience, skills and qualifications.
Job interviews aren’t just meant to help employers determine whether you’ll be a good for the company and skilled enough to perform the job. They’re also intended to give you, the jobseeker, a better idea of what life’s like at the company and whether you really can see yourself working there.
By asking the right questions in an interview, you’ll be able to present yourself in a positive light by confirming your interest in the job, and find out whether the job will be a good fit for you and if it aligns with your career goals and personal values. All this – along with the skills and experience you bring to the table – can act as a passport to your dream job.
Here are the 100 best questions you should ask interviewers divided into 5 different sections.
You’ll have hopefully researched the company before heading to your interview, but there are other things you can ask a potential employer about beyond the organisation’s mission and values. Here are some ideas:
- Where do you think the company is headed in the next five years?
- Who do you consider to be your biggest competitor, and why?
- What are the biggest opportunities facing the company right now?
- What are the biggest challenges facing the company right now?
- What is your company culture like?
- Is there anything you can tell about the company that isn’t on the website?
- How many people joined your company last year?
- What steps do you actively take to keep employees motivated?
- Why do you think people leave the company?
- What is your turnover and what steps are taken to improve it?
- How has the company changed since you joined it?
- What is the company’s view on creativity and individuality?
- If you could change one thing about the company, what would it be?
- Do you encourage participating in community and professional activities?
- Does the company support ongoing training and education for employees to stay in their current fields?
- How often are performance reviews given?
- How is performance measured?
- Where do you see the industry going in the next five years and how does this impact the company?
- Can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
- What is the company’s management style?
First, make sure you’re aware of what exactly the job you’re applying for to entails. Having a clear understanding of the job’s day-to-day responsibilities will help you ask more targeted questions, thereby confirming your interest in the position.
- Who would be my immediate manager or supervisor in this position?
- How will I be trained?
- What’s the toughest part about this job?
- Is this a new position or am I replacing someone?
- Why did the previous person leave?
- How long has the position been open for?
- What can you tell me about the position that isn’t in the job description?
- What does a typical day look like?
- Would you like me to do anything differently than the previous people who held this job? If so, what?
- What is the typical career path for this role?
- Has anyone ever performed poorly in this position? What were the typical mistakes made?
- What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?
- How many people have held this job in the last two years?
- How long does someone typically stay in this job?
- Can you show me examples of projects I would be working on?
- Will I have a mentor?
- Will I be leading or managing anyone? Can you tell me about their strengths and weaknesses?
- What is the last person who did this job doing now?
- What responsibilities have the highest priority?
- How do you see this position evolving in the next three years?
It’s time to get up close and personal! Asking the interviewer about their opinion and experiences of the company can be an excellent way to learn a great deal more about working in the company, while it also helps build rapport and even break the ice.
- How long have you been working in the company?
- What made you decide to join the company?
- Has your role changed since you started working here?
- What’s your favourite thing about working here?
- What have you found to be the biggest challenge about working here?
- What do you wish you had known before you joined the company?
- What don’t you like about working here and what would you change?
- What excites you most about coming to work every day?
- How did you develop your career in this company?
- Do you feel someone entering the company today would have similar opportunities?
- What has allowed you to be successful here?
- What is the most memorable thing that has happened to you since joining the company?
- What do you consider to be the company’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What is a typical day like for you?
- Why do you consider yourself successful in this job?
- What is your background?
- As you review your experience here, what are you most proud of?
- What did you do before this?
- How would you characterise yourself as a leader?
- What is your preferred method of communication with employees who report to you?
The people we work with can make or break our life at work. And considering how we work with those people from 9 to 5, five days a week, asking a few questions about the team can help you uncover whether they’re the right team for you.
- Can I meet more of the team I’d be working with?
- What tools does the team use to communicate each day?
- How are teams typically structured in the company?
- What type of team activities does the work group participate in?
- Does anyone on the team ever get together outside work?
- Is the work on this team more collaborative or independent?
- How many people are in this team/department?
- What sort of communication style works best with this team?
- Who would I be working with?
- How is communication between this department and others?
- Who will I be reporting to?
- How does senior management view this group?
- Which other departments work closely with this one?
- Do you expect to hire more people in this team/department within the next six months?
- What do you and the team usually do for lunch?
- What is the approval process for projects and tasks within the group?
- What are the key positions and groups that I would be working with?
- What are the leadership or personality types of those people and groups?
- What are the three biggest challenges your team faces when working with other groups within the organisation?
- What do you do to minimise the challenges?
The Interview Process
Before exiting the interview room, it’s imperative that the hiring manager has all the necessary information to review your application. It also provides you with the opportunity to learn more about what happens next. You can achieve this by asking the following questions:
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- When can I expect to hear back from you?
- Will unsuccessful candidates be contacted?
- How will you get in touch?
- When do you expect to make an offer?
- Who will make the final hiring decision?
- How many people will be interviewing for this role?
- How should I follow up?
- Who should I stay in touch with as things move forward?
- How do I compare with the other candidates you interviewed for the job?
- Do you have any feedback?
- Would you like a list of references?
- Do you have any concerns about my qualifications or experience?
- If you decide to extend an offer, when would you like me to start?
- What could I expect in the next round of interviews?
- Is there anything that would prevent you from offering me this job?
- May I contact you if other questions arise?
- What is the most appropriate method to contact you?
- Are there any other questions I can answer?
- What are some of the reasons you’ve rejected candidates for so far?
Things to Remember
Before we go, and before you head to your next interview, here a handful of tips you should keep in mind when asking questions at a job interview.
- You don’t have to wait till the end of the interview: Though most experts advise you to save your questions till the end of the interview, don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview – if and when they fit with the flow of the conversation. This, essentially, makes the exchange more of a dialogue and less of an interrogation.
- Avoid yes or no questions: Most of these type of questions can be answered by spending a little time on the company’s website, so what’s the point wasting everybody’s time? Remember, you should be asking questions that encourage – not stump – a conversation.
- Be careful what you ask: Asking ‘Does your company care about ethics and procedures?’ can be translated to ‘So, do you break any laws around here?’ which, naturally, won’t bode well for you. You should also avoid overly personal questions about the interviewer (eg: ‘Are you married?’) and you should definitely avoid asking about what the job pays (try to leave talk of money until an official job offer has been extended).
- Don’t interrupt: Make sure the interviewer’s finished saying what they want to say before you fire your next question at them. It’s incredibly rude and will only halt the flow of the conversation.
- Always have a few questions ready: Not having any questions to ask at all can be just as bad as asking the wrong ones. Even if the interviewer’s covered everything you wanted to know, make sure you have at least a couple of questions as backup.
- These aren’t the only questions you can ask: Remember, you should ask questions that are relevant to your particular case and to the job you’re applying to. The more tailored your questions the better.
Can you think of any other questions you should ask at the end of an interview? Join the conversation down below and share your thoughts and experiences with us!
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our interview etiquette guides on smiling, shaking hands and what to wear to ensure you make a great first impression. Also worth a look is our list of the most common interview questions and how to answer them.