The 20 Best Questions to Ask On a Job Interview
If you have a big job interview coming up, you’ll of course spend a lot of time making sure you’re as prepared as possible. You might spend days pondering the exact right outfit, or rehearsing your responses to commonly asked interview questions.
But many candidates forget to consider, or may not even realize, that asking questions at a job interview is as important as answering them. If you’ve established a good rapport with the person conducting your interview, you may naturally find yourself asking questions in response to details they give you about the job. And many interviews will conclude with the interviewer asking you, directly, whether you have any questions that they can answer.
This is why it’s important to come to a job interview ready to receive information, as well as give it. Knowing what you want to learn from the process will help you decide the best questions to ask.
Why It’s Important to Ask Questions in a Job Interview
Asking questions during a job interview serves two purposes:
One is that it helps you make that all-important positive first impression, demonstrating that you’ve prepared for the interview and are invested in the hiring process. It shows that you’re curious about the company, thinking about how your skills might contribute to their mission, and are serious when considering the next step in your career.
Related to that last point, asking questions is an important part of assessing whether this is, in fact, the job that you want. Is it the right fit for your skills and personality? Will it help you achieve your own career goals? Many job candidates forget that an interview actually goes both ways, and that you can and should be evaluating a potential employer as much as they’re evaluating you.
Choosing the Best Questions to Ask During a Job Interview
There are many great questions you can ask in an interview, and which you choose will probably depend a lot on the situation. Doing some initial research on the company, and reading the job description carefully, can help you in two important ways: it can raise issues that you’d like to learn more about, and it can eliminate some potential questions by giving you the answers ahead of time. You don’t want to ask something you can learn just by reading the company website, because that will make it look like you haven’t done your research. On the other hand, asking for more information on something you read about can be a great way of showing that you’re interested!
Similarly, some of the questions you’ve prepped may be answered organically during your conversation with the interviewer – so you can cross those off the list. However, if something the hiring manager says piques your interest, you should absolutely ask them to expand. This shows interest, enthusiasm, and that you were paying attention. You can save these follow-up questions for the end, or ask them in the moment – whatever feels the most natural to the dynamics of the conversation.
So while you can’t perfectly plan out what to ask ahead of time, here’s s a list of some common questions to keep in mind:
Questions to Ask About the Role
What will be my day-to-day responsibilities in this role?
What kind of long-term projects will I take on? What kind of projects will I be contributing to as part of my team?
Who does this position report to, and who else is on the team?
What will I be expected to accomplish in my first 90 days?
Is there room for growth/advancement in this role?
What kind of career path does this position offer?
If there was someone else in this role previously, what did they go on to do?
If this is a new role, why was it created? Are there any specific pain points this role needs to address?
Questions to Ask About the Company Culture
What are the company’s values?
What is the corporate culture / work environment like?*
What does the company do to support work/life balance for their employees?*
Does the company organize team building activities?
How do you onboard new employees, and what kind of support do they receive as they learn their role?
How do you support employee growth at your company? Do you offer training and other professional development resources?
What is the company’s current goal or plan for growth, and how will my role and my team support this goal?
*These can be tricky questions, because if the company has a toxic work culture they’re very unlikely to tell you that! So you may not get a fully honest answer. But seeing how your interviewer responds can help you get a sense of how the company relates to their employees.
Questions for Your Prospective Boss or Teammates
If you advance to the final rounds of an interview process, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a chance to speak directly with the hiring manager, and/or the person who would be your boss. Some companies will also do panel or team interviews for final candidates, which are a great opportunity to get to know your future coworkers.
Here are some great questions to ask them:
How long have you been at this company? And how long have you been in your current role?
What skills and strengths are well-represented in this team currently, and are there any gaps you’re looking to fill?
How has your role evolved during your time here, and what have you learned?
What qualities do you value in employees and teammates?
What do you like about working for this company?
What to Avoid Asking on a Job Interview
You’ll want to hold back on answering transactional about salary, vacation, and other benefits until fairly late in the process – ideally when you’ve received an offer, and will be in a position to negotiate. Especially early on, you want to stay focused on the job itself, and what you can offer. Furthermore, companies increasingly have an overview of their benefits policies outlined on their jobs page, which means you can look up some of this info yourself.
Asking your interviewer personal questions that don’t pertain directly to the job itself is also a big no-no. Similarly, you should not be expected to answer any intimate questions during a job interview. Being asked about your hobbies or interests may be innocuous “get to know you” banter, but there are certain situations in which asking personal questions is inappropriate, and even illegal.
And as we said before, the number-one thing you want to avoid is asking anything that has already been stated by the interviewer, or that you can find out through simple research. Along a similar vein, you’ll want to avoid simple “yes” or “no” questions in favor of those that can create a real dialogue. Remember: the interview is meant to help both you and your prospective employer learn about each other. So come armed with some smart, probing questions, and you’re sure to make the most of this opportunity!