“Do you have any questions” is one of the top interview questions employers ask.
Employers typically view job candidates who don’t ask questions as uninterested.
So, be prepared with your questions. You will benefit, too.
The main reasons for asking questions in your next job interview are:
⏩ To gain a much more accurate idea of the job than the job description typically provides.
⏩ To learn more about the manager, your co-workers, and the whole organization to see if it seems like a place where you could work happily and successfully.
⏩ To impress the employer.
⏩ To understand how they react to an economic and/or health crises.
Since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, you also want to understand how the employer handled the situation. How did they treat employees? How did they survive and recover? For details on what to ask them (and the questions you may be asked) read Interview Questions in a Post-COVID Pandemic World.
The best way to succeed in an interview, most of the time, is to turn the interview from a formal question-and-answer “grilling” into a business conversation.
Prepare Your Questions in Advance
Read through the list below to get ideas about questions that are typically asked and choose the ones that seem to be most important to you. Choose at least 10 questions that are the most important to you and relevant to the opportunity. Write your questions on a list you take with you to the interview.
You will likely not ask even half of the questions listed below, but they are a good starting point for developing your own, depending on what is most important to you.
The best way to avoid taking a job you will hate (resulting in another job hunt too soon) is to learn as much as you can about the job, the organization, your boss, your coworkers, and the environment before you accept the job offer.
Questions to Ask When the Interview Is Being Set Up
Usually the first person you speak with is the recruiter or a member of the Human Resources staff. In some — typically small — organizations, the hiring manager will be the first person who interviews you.
The best question to ask is — Who will be interviewing me, and how does your hiring process work?
Ask for the names and job titles of the people who are interviewing you so that you can do some research about them before the interview. Hopefully they will have LinkedIn Profiles you can review to see if you find any common ground among them or with you to help you understand more about the organization.
Research the interviewers to help you find ways to build rapport with the interviewers during the interview — same school or degree, same professional organization, etc.
During this initial “screening” interview, employers ask questions to determine if you are a qualified candidate who should be invited to a face-to-face interview. You may not have an opportunity to ask many questions, but do have questions ready to demonstrate your interest in the organization and the job.
Review the questions below to have your relevant questions ready for the face-to-face interviews. Ask these questions to understand what to expect from their hiring process (and what will be expected from you). Also ask these questions to know if you really want this job with this employer
Regardless of who that first person is, ask these questions of both the HR/recruiting staff member and the hiring manager to learn important details about the job and to compare the “facts” presented.
Questions to Ask the Interviewers at the Start of the Interview
At the start of the interview, understanding the people who are interviewing you will help you provide answers appropriate to the person’s role in your work life. You will also become a bit more comfortable talking with the interviewer(s), hopefully turning the interview into a discussion rather than a series of questions and answers.
Ask These Questions to Learn About the Job
These questions are most relevant when you are meeting an interviewer for the first time. You should be introduced to each person interviewing you before an interview begins. Make note of the person’s name, and ask for their job title if it isn’t provided.
Ideally, you should exchange business cards with each of the interviewers so you have all relevant information, including their job title and contact information.
⏩ Questions for the HR representative or the hiring manager:
First, learn as much as you can about this job, which will help you understand more about the organization and this job:
- How long has this job been open?
- Is this a new job?
- Why is this job open?
- Where would I be working?
- What is your onboarding process here?
During the Coronavirus pandemic, also ask questions related to how the employer is managing the situation, keeping employees safe while continuing to operate successfully.
Ask the Hiring Manager These Questions
If the person who is interviewing you is the hiring manager, ask these questions to learn more about this part of the organization, how he organization works together, and this person’s management style:
- How many people report directly to you? OR How large is your organization?
- Who is your boss?
- When did you join this organization?
- How would you describe your management style?
- How do you provide feedback for employees?
- Why are you successful here?
- What do you enjoy most about working here?
- What makes your most successful employees succeed?
- Can you give me an example of a great employee success?
- What skills and experience would make someone successful in this job?
- What is the biggest challenge someone will face in this job in the first 6 months?
Ask These Questions to Learn About Co-Workers
If the person would be a co-worker, learn more about how things look from this person’s level by asking questions like these:
- How often is this job filled?
- How long have you worked for this employer?
- How long have you been in this job?
- Are you glad you took this job? Are you happy to be working here? Why?
- What makes someone successful in this job?
- Have you received any training here or taken any classes this employer paid for?
- Have long do people typically stay in this job? How many coworkers have left? Where did they go?
Understanding more about the person will help you choose the next questions to ask, and also help you keep their responses in perspective.
Questions to Ask the Interviewers During the Main Part of the Interview
Once you understand who is interviewing you, you can move on to asking these questions as appropriate during the interview.
Questions to See if This Is the RIGHT Job for YOU
Once you know the players in the interview, ask the questions that will help you understand more about the job and whether or not it is a job you would like.
Regardless of who you are asking these questions, the answers to these questions will enable you to focus your answers to best position yourself as the “cure” for their “pain”:
- What is a typical (day, week, month, and/or year) in this job?
- What would be my priorites for the first month? First quarter? First year?
- What is the toughest time of (day, week, month, or year) for a person in the job? Why?
- How long did the last employee stay in this job? What are they doing now?
- What is the top priority for someone in this job?
- What is the biggest challenge for someone doing this job?
- What is the key to success in this job? Why?
- What are the most important skills of the person who does this job?
- 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 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? What mistakes did they make?
- What do you expect the person in this job to accomplish in the first 30, 60, or 90 days?
The answers to these questions will increase your understanding of their problems (to fine tune your responses to their questions) and whether or not you want to work there.
Questions to Learn About the Job
Ask questions that will help you determine if you would actually like the job, and be able to do it well.
- Why is this position open? Is it a new position? Or is it a replacement for someone?
- How long does someone typically stay in this job?
- How many hours a week does someone in this job typically work? Is overtime (technically more than 40 hours/week) accepted or expected?
- Do most employees check email over the weekends and stay in touch while on vacation? Is that required for this job?
- Do employees sometimes work from home or telecommute in this job? How many people telecommute? How many hours a week?
- Who does the person in this job report to? What is the boss’s job title, and where are they located?
- What is the salary grade for this job? Where does this job salary grade rank in your salary grades?
- What can you tell me about this job that isn’t in the description?
- What are your future plans for this job?
- What are the prospects for growth for the person in this job?
- How long do people stay in this job?
- How often is this job open?
- Who does the person in this job report to?
- How often are performance reviews provided? Do employees receive feedback from their managers?
- Is travel to meet with clients or suppliers or to represent this organization required for this job? If so, where, how long, how far, and how often?
- Where is this job located?
The questions above will also give you an idea about the kind of working environment you would be joining — the “corporate culture.” That culture may expect people to work 50 hours a week (or more) or not.
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 to Ask at the End of the Interview
As the interview winds down, or when the interviewer has indicated that the interview is ending, you need to ask these end-of-the-interview questions.
Tell the interviewer that you are very interested in the job and enthusiastic about joining the organization. Then, finish by asking these questions.
Ask Questions to “Close the Sale” or Uncover Objections
Use your judgement about the interviewer and the situation. Some interviewers will like this approach and the confidence you are demonstrating by asking these questions, but others may not.
Do what feels comfortable and appropriate to you.
- If you had to choose your finalists for this position today, would I be included?
- Based on our conversation today, do you believe I can excel in this position or do you have areas of concern?
OR, the least challenging, but still useful…
- Do you have any other questions for me?
These can be tough questions to ask, but hearing their responses allows you to respond and overcome any objections they might have. If you do not do this, and they do have objections, then you will be one of those who gets the rejection letter.
If they answer these questions (and they might not!), those answers will give you an indication of how well you did in the interview and perhaps an opportunity to clarify a question they might have about your qualifications to do the job.
Questions to Ask So You Know What Happens NEXT
⏩ Now, ask the 5 essential MUST-ASK “housekeeping” questions so that you will understand how their process works, when you can expect to hear from them, what happens next, and who will be your contact. If you don’t ask these questions, you will have no idea when you will hear from them next or where they are in their process which will be very stressful (and discouraging) for you.
If you don’t ask those questions, you also risk being in contact with the wrong person at the wrong time, looking either desperate or annoying.
The Bottom Line
Gather as much information as you can in the job interview. Decide if you really want this job in this organization working with these people. Then, be prepared for the whole process to take too much time. NEVER stop your job search and wait for a job offer to come. You are probably one of at least three other candidates for any job, and they may well choose someone else — or not fill this job.
Answering the Common Job Interview Questions:
Questions About You:
- What Is Your Greatest Achievement or Accomplishment?
- Tell Me/Us About Yourself
- Why Should We Hire You?
- What Do You Want?
- Why Do You Want THIS Job?
- What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
- What Is Your Greatest Strength?
- Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job?
- What Is Your Current Salary?
- What Are Your Salary Expectations?
- When Can You Start?
- Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
- Smart Strategies to Answer to Behavioral Interview Questions
Handling Special Career Situations:
- Why Did You Quit Your Last Job
- After a Layoff: Why Did You Leave Your Job?
- After Being Fired: Why Did You Leave Your Job?
- Explain Your Gap in Employment
Questions About Them:
Questions for You to Ask Them:
- Do You Have Any Questions? — choose from 50+ good questions to ask them
- 5 Absolute Must-Ask Questions for the End of Your Next Interview
- The Second Interview: 5 Key Questions to Ask
- 45 Questions You Should NOT to Ask in Job Interviews
- 3 Steps to Interview Success: Build Your Interview Checklist
- The Winning Difference: Pre-Interview Preparation
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 recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, 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.
More about this author…