Job-Hunt.org Your Best Job Search Information Source

For Smarter Job Search

Linked In Facebook Twitter

Advertisement

45+ Good Questions to Ask in Your Job Interview

By Susan P. Joyce

45+ Questions to Ask in Your Job Interview

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 employer, your boss, your coworkers, and the environment before you accept the job offer. Job interviews should be as great a source of information for you, as they are for employers.

If the interviewer knows what they are doing, you will be asked if you have any questions. Even if they don't ask, be prepared, and ask your questions, anyway. When you have your own questions ready, you can often divert the interviewer's attention in uncomfortable situations (like after you have answered why you were fired).

Asking good questions shows that you are both interested and prepared, which will impress the interviewer, and the answers to those questions should also help you decide whether or not you want to work for the employer.

Employers often have several candidates for every job, so 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 interested in the job or not very bright. Read 45 Questions You Should NOT Ask in a Job Interview for questions to avoid asking.

Stage of the Interview Process

The job interview process may be simple. You come in for one set of interviews and are hired (or not). More often, there are several "rounds" of interviews, and making it past the first round is usually considered a good sign.

Most of these questions are appropriate for every round of interviewing when you are interviewed by new people (to you) in each round.

If you see the same people again in a 2nd or 3rd round, as part of the interview process for the same job, don't repeat a question unless you want to follow up on something another interviewer said. Hopefully, by that point in the interview process, you will have learned enough about the person and the job to have developed new questions to ask

Questions to Ask in an 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 the questions below.

The timing of your questions can be very important. Presumably you know the job title and job description, so ask other relevant questions about the employer and the job.

Important Do NOT's:

First, don't feel that you must ask all, or even half, of these questions or that these are the only questions to ask. Use this list as a starting point. Pick out the questions that are the most important to you, and add more based on your experience and interests.

Second, ask follow-on questions, based on the answers you receive. Turn the interview into a discussion.

Don't just mechanically go through this list of questions -- that will be interpreted as lack of interest and/or lack of intelligence. Neither interpretation will be good for your candidacy.


Advertisement

Questions for 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 worklife. 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.

Learn About the Interviewer

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 receive a business card from the interviewer that contains all relevant information, including their contact information.

Particularly if the person will be a co-worker or your manager, understanding what motivates their questions and interest in you will give you more insight into both them and the job. You will also be able to ask the most relevant questions.

  • 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?
  • How would you describe your management style (if the interviewer will be your boss)?

Understanding more about the person will help you choose the next questions to ask, and also help you keep their responses in perspective.

These questions are most relevant when you are meeting an interviewer for the first time. If you are returning for a second or third round of interviews with the same person, you should already know the answers to these questions, so repeating them is not necessary or smart.

Questions for 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 About the Job

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

  • Where is this job located?
    Ask this question if it isn't clear where the person will be working. You might be able to work from home, or the job might be at a different location than where the interview is happening.
  • Who does the person in this job report to?
    If the manager and the person in this job don't work in the same location, ask where the manager is located.
  • 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? What mistakes did they make?
  • 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?

Understanding more about the job will help you decide if the job feels like a good fit for you.


Advertisement

Questions About the Organization

Do not ask a question that could be answered by a quick visit to the employer's website and a quick 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 work 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?
    • 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 for 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.

If you are feeling bold, you can ask how you did, if the interviewer has any concerns about your ability to do the job, and/or if you are the leading candidate for the job. Some interviewers will like this approach and the confidence you are demonstrating, but others will not. Do what feels comfortable and appropriate to you.

Learn About the Employer's Hiring Process and the Next Steps

You want to be sure that you understand what happens next, and how their hiring process works.

  • What happens next in your process? (another round of interviews or reference checks or...)
  • Who should I stay in touch with (get name, job title, and contact information if you don't already have it)?
  • What is the best way to stay in touch (telephone or email)?
  • How will you get back in touch with me (telephone, email, or something else)?
  • When do you expect to make an offer?
  • If you make me an offer, when would you expect me to start work?

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


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, and Google+.


Advertisement

Successful Job Interviews Guide

Essential Job Interviewing Requirements:

Job Interview Tips:


Advertisement

Succeeding at Different Kinds of Job Interviews:

Successful Job Interview Preparation:

Job Interview Follow Up:

More Information About Job Interviews:


Over 50? Want work?
Real employers who value your experience are looking for you here.
SeniorJobBank.org

Find Jobs in all states
Jobs across the state - not available elsewhere on the Web. Only here.
CareerCast.com

Employers:
Need additional staff?
$50 credit to post jobs on Indeed.