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45 Questions to Ask in Your Job Interview

By Susan P. Joyce

If the interviewer knows what they are doing, you will be asked if you have any questions about the job. Be prepared! Asking good questions shows that you are interested and prepared. The answers to those questions should also help you decide whether or not you want to work for the employer.

Employers usually have several candidates for every job, and they aren't interested in a candidate who isn't really interested in them or the opportunity. Typically, a job seeker with no questions is assumed to be either not really interested or not very bright.

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Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

Try not to ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

You want more information, and people will usually provide that if you ask "open-ended" questions, like these below.

Questions about the job

Ask questions that will help you determine if you would actually like the job, and be able to do it well.

  • What can you tell me about this job that isn't in the description?
  • What is the key to success in this job?
  • What are your future plans for this job?
  • What are the prospects for growth for the person in this job?
  • How do people grow in this job?
    Do they have OJT (on the job training), pay for training, or are you responsible for your own training?
  • Why is this position open? Is it a new position or a replacement for someone?

    • New position is usually good (sign that the organization is probably growing).
    • If the job is a replacement, ask if the employee transferred to another part of the company, was promoted, or left the employer.
  • How long does someone typically stay in this job?
  • How often is this job open?
  • What is a typical (day, week, month, or year) for a person in this job?
    Choose multiple time frames, if that feels appropriate.
  • What is the toughest time of (day, week, month, or year) for a person in the job? Why?
  • What is the key thing someone does to be successful in this job?
  • How is success in this job measured by you? By the organization?
  • What are the most important skills of the person who does this job?
  • What is the biggest challenge someone in this job faces on a daily (or weekly or monthly) basis?
  • If anyone has failed at this job, why did they fail?
  • Who does the person in this job report to?
    (If this job reports to more than one person, ask who writes the performance report.)
  • Is there much travel associated with this job? Where and how often?
  • What hours are typically worked in a week for someone successful in this job? Is overtime expected or accepted?

Questions about the organization

Do not ask a question that could be answered by a quick visit to the employer's website or a Google search.

  • What can you tell me about this organization that isn't widely known?
  • What is the key to success in this organization?
  • How many people are in this group (department, office, and/or company)?
  • How many have joined in the last year?
    (In a fast growing company, several people could have been added. In a tough place to work, several people could have left.)
  • How many people have left in the last year?
  • Where to people usually go when they leave this group (another company or another part of this company)?
  • How long do people usually stay in this organization?
  • How do you define (or measure) "success" here?
  • How would an employee know if they were considered a success or not?
  • How does someone get promoted in this organization?
  • How does senior management view this group?
  • Where do you see this group in five years?
  • When and how is feedback given to employees?
  • If regular performance reports are done, what is the time frame between reports, who writes them, and who contributes to them?

Ask about anything else in your preparation that raised questions for you. [Read Smart Google Research for Successful Job Interviews for leveraging Google before the interview.]

Questions about the person interviewing you

Particularly if the person will be a co-worker or your manager, understanding what motivates them will give you more insight both into them and into the job.

  • How long have you worked here?
  • How long have you been in this job?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • Why are you successful here?

Questions about their process and the next steps:

The answers to these questions will help you understand how their hiring process works and how soon you should expect to hear from them.

  • What happens next in your process? (another round of interviews or reference checks or...)
  • When will you be back in touch with me?
  • How will you get back in touch with me (telephone, email, or something else)?
  • When do you expect to make an offer?
  • When do you anticipate the person in this job will start work?
  • Who should I stay in touch with (get name, job title, and contact information)?

Be sure to send a thank you after EVERY interview: Sending Your Thank You After the Job Interview including many sample thank you notes like Sample Job Interview Thank You Email.


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


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Guide to Job Interviews

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