Your potential employer is asking you questions to learn about you and your skills. In return, you need to prepare questions to ask your interviewer about the position, and the company in order to be sure that this is the right job for you.
In addition, if you don’t prepare smart questions, you run the risk of the interviewer assuming you aren’t interested or haven’t prepared.
It’s really important that you use these questions as a chance to show the employer that you’re engaged in the process and that you care about the position.
Not sure what to ask? We’ve put together some interview question inspiration so you can use it as a chance to impress the employer and score some serious brownie points.
Questions to ask about the job
You can learn a lot about an open position through the basic application process, but to really know about what will be expected of you, you need to make sure you prepare good questions to ask about the job as well.
Question 1/Thinking back to people you’ve seen do this work previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great at it?
The thing about this question is that it goes straight to the heart of what the hiring manager is looking for. Hiring managers aren’t interviewing candidates in the hopes of finding someone who will do an average job; they’re hoping to find someone who will excel at the job. And this question says that you care about the same thing.
It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll do extraordinary work, but it makes you sound like someone who’s at least aiming for that — someone who’s conscientious and driven, and those are huge things in a hiring manager’s eyes.
Plus, the answer to this question can give you much more insight into what it’ll take to truly excel in the job — and whatever the answer is, you can think about whether or not it’s something you’re likely able to do.
Question 2/ What kind of professional development benefits do you offer?
This shows your interest in what the company is going to offer as part of your career path.
Asking this sends strong signals to the interviewer that you are a person who is ready to learn and develop your skill set. You will also come across as proactive and dedicated.
What’s more, when you ask this question, you make it clear that you want a long term career and you are dedicated to becoming the very best you can possibly be. And as a bonus, you will gain clarity on what they invest in their employees via their response.
Question 3/ What are some of the challenges you expect the person in this position to face?
This can get at the information you’d never get from the job description, for example, you’ll have to deal with messy interdepartmental politics, or the person you’ll be working with most closely is difficult to get along with.
It can also create an opening for you to talk about how you’ve approached similar challenges in the past, which can be reassuring to your interviewer.
Answers to this question will help you understand what your job will entail and give you the opportunity to explain how you could tackle your employer’s biggest challenge.
Question 4/ What’s the most important thing I can accomplish in the first 30 days?
When you’re thinking of joining a new company, it’s important to get a sense of what tasks or projects to prioritize first. This will also allow the new employer to know you’re ready to take on the most important, pressing issues right away.
You can be able to find out what your employer’s expectations are for the person in this position. 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
Question 5/ How long did the previous person in the role hold the position? What has a turnover in the role generally been like?
This is a smart question to ask because it shows that you understand the importance of landing a secure position. You can also get a sense of what kind of environment it is and how people like to work at the company.
Plus, the answer to this question will give you some ideas about the company’s honesty and transparency.
Questions to ask about the company
You should already have a good base of knowledge about the company and you got that information during your research phase of the job hunt. However, there are things you can’t get from research that can only come from someone on the inside, and the hiring manager is a great resource.
Question 1/ How would you describe the culture here? What type of people tend to really thrive here, and what type don’t do as well?
The answer to this question may give you a broad view of the corporate philosophy of a company and whether it prioritizes employee happiness.
You’ll also get insight into what is most important for the company as a whole, and what it values in the individuals who work there.
Think carefully about what sort of company you want to work for and if it suits your lifestyle. Does the company hold monthly socials? Do they offer flexible time? Are there any other benefits? These are all important factors to consider when accepting a job offer, so make sure you find out as much as possible so you can assess whether it’s right for you.
Question 2/ Where do you see the company in five years?
As a candidate, if you see where the company is headed, you can decide if that trajectory is in line with your career objectives. It’s helpful for the candidate to have some indication of the company’s direction.
Asking this question will show your interviewer that you can think of the big picture. It will help you to understand their expectations and will show that you are potentially wanting to pursue a long-term career with them and that you aspire to contribute towards the growth of the company.
If you plan to be in this role for several years, make sure the company is growing so you can grow with the company.
Question 3/ What is the single largest problem facing the organization today?
By demonstrating your concern and strategic thinking around the overall situation of the company, and not just your own position or department, potential employers are more likely to see you as a valuable asset that will add equity and energy to their team.
This question conveys that you can simultaneously tackle the daily tasks or projects in front of you while also keeping the bigger picture in mind. It also helps you uncover trends and issues in the industry and perhaps identify areas where your skills could be useful.
Question 4/ What type of performance review process does the organization have?
How you do your job is important, and what they expect from you as you do it! The best way to meet the goals of your employer is to know upfront what they are. Knowledge about the answer is powerful and the more you have, the better off you are.
You want to make sure you and your employer establish early on what they expect from your performance-wise and not just for the immediate future. If this is a job you plan on sticking with for a period of time, make sure early on that you know what they want you to do and if that will change over time.
Question 5/ What type of training or educational advancement does your organization offer or encourage?
Asking this will show that you want to develop your skills and are striving to succeed in your job role. It will also tell you about the organisation of the role and will indicate if there is a rigid structure for development and progression at the company.
If you are concerned about your ability to do the job. With the right training, an employee can quickly be brought up to company speed. If no training is offered and you’re not sure you know enough to do the job…this would also be a great time to get clarification on that.
Tips for asking your interviewer questions
1/ Prepare your questions ahead
Plan ahead and have interview questions of your own ready to ask. You aren’t simply trying to get this job—you are also interviewing the employer to assess whether this company and the position are a good fit for you.
2/ Ask questions about different topics
You should try to avoid asking questions about just one subject. For example, if you only ask questions about the company and management style, the interviewer may assume you have an issue with authority figures. Ask questions about a variety of topics to demonstrate your curiosity and interest in all aspects of the position.
3/ Build rapport with the interviewer
You can ask the interviewer about himself or herself when doing the job. People love to talk about themselves, especially when you can share some of your working styles or difficulties at work.
4/ Avoid Questions That Can Be Answered with “Yes” or “No”
When preparing your questions, focus on the ‘WH’ questions (what, why, which, when, where, who, etc). The WH questions will always require a long answer.
Avoid any questions that your interviewer can answer abruptly.
5/ Try not to explain your questions
Often, when you are trying to be polite and politically correct, you can end up answering part of your question as you ask it.
Keep your questions concise and specific. Do not enter into explanations while asking the question, which may come across as rambling or indecisive.