Important Questions to Ask in a Job Interview
You know the feeling – you’ve just navigated a tough job interview, answered their probing questions to the best of your ability and it’s finally wrapping up. Just as you start to relax, the interviewer hits you with that final line: have you got any questions for me? Panicking, you wrack your brains for an insightful, clever line of enquiry – but come up empty. If you’ve ever been in that position, read on, as we’ve got a whole list of great end-of-interview questions, to get the answers you need and impress your interviewer as you do it.
Should I Ask Questions?
A huge proportion of people answer “no” to the questions line, but this is considered poor practice in an interview. Asking genuine questions not only tells your interviewer that you are taking this opportunity seriously (because who wouldn’t have questions about the company that they’re going to spend 37.5 hours a week working for indefinitely?), but also that you are proactive and engaged.
A good interview should feel like a conversation, since both of you are here to find out whether this role would be a good fit. It can be nerve-wracking to ask a question in case you come across as ill-researched or clueless, but this is rarely the case, particularly if it is something you are burning to know about. Just make sure it isn’t something that a simple Google couldn’t tell you!
Below, we’ve laid out a long list of questions that are both excellent ways to glean more about a job, but also position you as an attentive, insightful, and motivated candidate.
“What would my typical day-to-day responsibilities look like in this role?”
Job descriptions are often very bad at communicating what exactly it is that you would do on a day-to-day basis. Here is your chance to get a more fleshed out understanding of the role and how your time will be spent.
“What opportunities for career progression are there in this role?”
OR “What sort of career path is associated with this role?”
You might think that already looking ahead would be a red flag for employers, but asking these questions indicates ambition and a desire for a career within the company. It can also help you identify whether this particular role would be a good steppingstone, or a dead end in terms of promotion.
“What are the main challenges I might face in this role?
From major budget constraints to tough client relationships, this is a great way of getting your interviewer to reveal any obvious issues associated with this role. You may find that the challenges they present constitute an intriguing possibility for solution, something you can address there and then or aim to resolve during your first few months on the job.
“How is success measured in this role?”
OR “How can I exceed expectations during my first few months in this role?”
This is a great question, because it shows a drive to go above and beyond, whilst clarifying exactly what it is they are hoping to see from you. You may find that you get a vague answer, but that in itself will reveal the extent to which the company measures performance (perhaps not very efficiently).
“What major projects might I be working on in the first few months/year?”
You interviewer might speak excitedly about a detailed upcoming project, or they might say that it’s largely up to you. Again, these answers will reveal a lot about how well-established the role is and how much freedom you might have to make your own schedule.
“What is the company culture like here?”
A happy employee will relish the opportunity to gush about their company and the various ways they feel supported. Equally, they may offer clues that can help you decide whether you would be a good fit. Some companies boast their “fast-paced”, “competitive” atmosphere, whilst others emphasise “collaboration”, “trust”, or excellent Friday socials! If they overuse the word “family” – be suspicious.
“How long have you worked here?”
OR “What’s been your favourite thing about working here?”
This is a great way of sussing out the company culture, without risking them regurgitating any official statement of “company values”. A question like this will also shift the interview into more of a discussion, putting you on equal footing and creating an opportunity for connection and amicability.
“How many people work remotely/in person here?”
OR “Will there be an opportunity to work from home in this role?”
Whether starting a remote job or heading into an office, finding out how many workers are doing the same is going to be increasingly important. You also might want to know what options you have in terms of dividing your time between the office and home. Your employer might not have considered this, so communicating interest early on is useful before any concrete plans for the role get made.
“Where do you see the company going in the next 3-5 years?”
Particularly if it is a start-up, it’s useful to find out where the company is going and what plans they have for growth. If they talk excitedly about future projects, or a detailed roadmap for the next year, it will indicate how your role might evolve and why it might be a great time to join the company. If they struggle to find an answer, it might indicate poor vision.
“What are the next steps in this interview process?”
OR “When can I expect to hear back?”
Don’t be afraid to ask what’s next, as it could save you days of anxiously refreshing your emails. You can also offer to make yourself available for follow-ups or suggest getting in contact with your prospective manager/team leader to introduce yourself. This is also a useful question for figuring out when you’re going to have to give notice at your current position, if relevant.
“Is there anything about my qualifications/achievements/application that you are hesitating over?”
This might sound like a daring question, but it’s a good opportunity to get feedback whilst you still have them in front of you. You can also clarify anything that they might mention, instead of leaving it up to them to guess.
“Is there anything you would like me to clarify?”
It might be that there is something still lingering on your interviewer’s mind, that they feel they might have missed. Here’s your opportunity to probe for it and explain away any doubts!
Whilst these interview questions are all tried, tested, and approved, your own questions should reflect things you actually want to know. Interviewers that are well-seasoned in the process can sniff out “posturing” questions very easily, and often consider it annoying. By this, I mean questions that are asked purely for the sake of appearing impressive or improving your image in the interview.
The worst thing you can do is ask a question that is really a statement of intelligence, such as: “I hear your CEO was recently quoted as saying he would be interested in acquiring __, does he not realise that now is a poor time to invest in __?”. Such questions, while revealing that you know your stuff, may rub your interviewer up the wrong way! Remember that interviews are largely about figuring out how well you might mesh with the team, so balancing confidence with humility is key.
Finally, asking questions you should have seen in your pre-interview research can also be a big no-no. Write out a list of questions before the interview and mentally check off any that get addressed throughout. Stick to two or three and don’t forget to thank your interviewer for their time at the end (then log-out and pour yourself a beer – you deserve it…!)