3 Smart Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

a man holding wooden blocks signifying questions

The best job interviews typically involve plenty of exchange between the hiring manager and the candidate. Thus, be ready to do your part by formulating several outstanding questions prior to meeting a potential employer. You’ll not only come off as prepared and engaged, you’ll likely learn valuable information that can aid in decision-making.

While a ton of possible questions exist, we asked three career experts to each choose one question they think every candidate should be sure to ask at a job interview. Consider their smart picks when formulating your own list of questions for a job interview:

1. What are the biggest challenges you’re facing right now in this department?

“This question is important because you want to find out what problems your prospective boss is grappling with so you can talk about how you would solve those problems. If you can convince the decision-maker that you can solve those problems, it will increase the likelihood of being offered the job,” says Kelly Donovan, principal at Kelly Donovan & Associates.

Donovan notes that the question also gives additional insight into what’s going on in that company. “You might have second thoughts about the job if the problems are very bad and would be nearly impossible to solve, especially if they’re indicative of larger problems within the company.”

2. How do you see your team’s growth potential over the next three years?

“I feel that this type of question allows the hiring manager to project ahead. And hopefully, the hiring manager will include the candidate in his or her projections,” says Vicky Oliver, author of five career books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.

Want to really make an impression? Oliver suggests bolstering the question with a lot of research that shows you’ve done your homework. Here’s an example:

“I’ve been really impressed to see that your company has added so many new employees this year. The article in [trade magazine] forecast that your hiring boom would continue through [year]. How does this impact your team here? How do you see your team’s growth potential over the next three years?”

3. How do you resolve disagreements?

“Disagreements at work cannot be avoided. Yet, people often operate under a false harmony where they feel pressured to agree, or at the other extreme, they are aggressive and adversarial,” says Mikaela Kiner, CEO and founder of Reverb.

“Knowing what happens during disagreements and whether they result in (healthy) conflict tells candidates a lot about a company’s culture. Companies that invest time to learn how to talk about differences are far more likely to reach good resolutions. It’s an important topic that’s not likely to come up unless the candidate raises it.”

And while this information certainly assists a job seeker in evaluating the company, venturing into such territory also conveys something to the hiring manager.

“Asking a question about relationships and interpersonal dynamics makes the candidate appear more well-rounded,” Kiner says. “Asking a probing question like this demonstrates that the candidate really wants to know what it’s like to work with this company. It shows courage on their part, asking a question that may be difficult to answer.”

Written by: Beth Braccio Hering

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